The use of optical differential scanning calorimetry to investigate ibuprofen miscibility in polymeric films for topical drug delivery  

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Understanding drug miscibility in pharmaceutically relevant systems is essential for the development and optimisation of pharmaceutical dosage forms. This is particularly true for film forming systems which are designed to become supersaturated with drug, following application on the skin surface, whilst maintaining the physical stability of the drug for a suitable period to enhance drug delivery. For such formulations, chemical penetration enhancers as well as the drug are absorbed from the formulation into the skin, making understanding drug delivery from the films challenging. This study investigated the use of an optical differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) to understand drug miscibility in polymeric film forming systems and explain drug transport behaviour from film forming formulations, containing ibuprofen, a copolymer based on dimethylaminoethyl methacrylate, butyl methacrylate, and methyl methacrylate (Eudragit® E, EuE), a copolymer based on ethyl acrylate, methyl methacrylate and methacrylic acid ester with quaternary ammonium groups (Eudragit® RS, EuRS) and a copolymer based on methacrylic acid and methyl methacrylate (Eudragit® S, EuS), with and without the chemical penetration enhancer propylene glycol, across a model membrane. The optical DSC enabled the rapid screening of not only drug-polymer miscibility, but also drug-vehicle miscibility, while considering both the melting-point depression and melting enthalpy of the drug due to the presence of the polymer/polymer-based vehicle, obtained via thermal analysis by structural characterisation (TASC) and DSC analysis, respectively. The results obtained enable the polymers studied to be ranked in the order of EuE > EuRS > EuS, with EuE being more miscible with ibuprofen, and the incorporation of a penetration enhancer in the film forming system formulation was found to increase ibuprofen solubility in EuE- and EuRS- based films. The drug-polymer/vehicle miscibility information obtained via optical DSC provided understanding of drug transport from film forming systems with the higher miscibility of ibuprofen with EuE reducing drug transport through decreasing drug saturation in the film. The higher drug transport from films containing EuRS and EuS could also be linked to drug miscibility with the polymer and showed dependence on ibuprofen loading in the formulation. Overall optical DSC has been demonstrated to be a valuable tool for determining drug-vehicle miscibility for pharmaceutical product development.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages26
JournalEuropean Journal of Pharmaceutics and Biopharmaceutics
Early online date14 Oct 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 14 Oct 2021


  • Drug-polymer miscibility, drug-vehicle miscibility, optical differential scanning calorimetry, thermal analysis by structural characterisation, preformulation screening, film forming systems.


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