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Cushioning pellets based on microcrystalline cellulose – Crospovidone blends for MUPS tableting

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Compaction of multiple-unit pellet system (MUPS) tablets has been extensively reported to be potentially challenging. Thus, there is a need for non-segregating cushioning agents to mitigate the deleterious effect of the compaction forces. This study was designed to investigate the use of porous pellets as cushioning agents using different drying techniques to prepare pellets of various porosities and of different formulations. The pellets fabricated were characterized for their porosity and crushing strength. Subsequently, MUPS tablets were prepared using blends of polymer-coated pellets and custom-designed cushioning pellets by compacting at different pressures. The effects of pellet volume fraction and dwell time on the pellet coat damage, as well as the tensile strength of the resultant MUPS tablets were also investigated. Compacts with coated pellet volume fraction of 0.21 exhibited the best cushioning effect when tableted at different compression speeds with both gravity and force feeders. The findings from this study showed that cushioning pellet porosity was highest when drying was carried out by freeze drying, followed by fluid bed drying and oven drying. There was an inverse relationship between cushioning pellet porosity and strength. The tensile strength of tablets prepared from freeze dried pellets was highest. The protective effect of the cushioning pellets was principally dependent on their porosity. Also, pellet volume fraction in the compacts and compaction pressure used had remarkable effect on pellet coat damage. When unprocessed powders were compacted by automatic die filling, capping and lamination problems were observed. However, tablets of reasonable quality were made with the cushioning pellets. Freeze dried pellets containing crospovidone were found to be promising as cushioning agents and had enabled the production of MUPS tablets even at higher compaction pressures, beyond the intrinsic crushing strength of the coated pellets.
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