The science of small particles is known as ‘micromeritics’ and it is used extensively in many different industries, including pharmaceuticals. When you really think of how important the consistency of a drug is for it to work well, the relevance of micromeritics comes to the surface.
Pharmaceuticals are used for countless ailments, injuries, and diseases every single day and if they don’t work as intended all the time, the results could be catastrophic. Particle size is one of the many critical elements in making sure all pharmaceuticals perform up to par.
Here are some important factors related to particle size.
The Release and Dissolution of a Drug
Anyone who has been prescribed a drug to take orally, topically, or rectally knows all about particle size and surface area. These factors influence the release of the drug in its pre-determined form as well as the dissolution rate.
As an example, increasing the surface area of the drug by creating finer particles will effectively weaken the physical barriers to dissolution. This means that the release of the drug happens much quicker because the finer particles dissolve quicker. The pharmaceutical industry knows that the particle size affects the release and dissolution and effectiveness of any drug, which is one of the reasons it’s such a crucial part of the process.
Absorption and Therapeutic Action
All patients have prescribed drugs to achieve a therapeutic effect on their bodies. The desired effect will vary depending on the specific condition of the patient, but without a therapeutic effect of some sort, the drug is basically pointless. The size of the drug particles will have an influence on how quickly the drug is absorbed into the body, which in turn will have an influence on the therapeutic action.
It may seem logical to make the particle size on all drugs as small as possible for quick absorption and a fast therapeutic effect, but this isn’t always the goal. Sometimes a drug requires a slower, longer-lasting kind of effect and sometimes it must be immediate, as with drugs that are inhaled.
The overall physical stability of a pharmaceutical drug is another factor influenced by the particle size. Physical stability is important because it helps to keep the drugs in their intended form, and it plays a role during manufacturing, packaging, shipping, and storage. Obviously, not all pharmaceuticals are used the same day they are created, so the physical stability factor must remain intact from the beginning of the process to the end.
In many instances, the dosage of a particular drug might be altered if the particle size is too big or too small. Drugs that are comprised of powders or granules may clump together and alter the dosage inside tablets or capsules if they aren’t of uniform particle size.
In suspensions, particle sizes that aren’t uniform may result in coagulation and improper dosages. As most people know, improper dosages of certain drugs may result in severe reactions or even death in some cases.
Important Disruption Factors
Manipulating the particle size of pharmaceutical drugs is essentially a cell disruption method, and doing it well relies on a handful of different factors.
The first step is the ability to create tiny particles of varying sizes, and the second is to ensure those particles are uniform in size. The uniform particle size throughout the distribution is what makes each step of the process move along successfully to the next, all the way to a quality end product.
Achieving success with particle size in the laboratory is great and helps create effective pharmaceutical drugs. However, if that effort can’t be repeated on a mass scale, it’s no good for business or for the scores of patients who are waiting for the drugs. That is where the elite pharmaceutical manufacturers stand apart from the rest. The ability to scale up the process and the results, over and over again.
Was It the Particles?
It’s easy to see just how important particle size is in every step of the pharmaceutical process. The next time you or someone you know has an adverse reaction or no reaction to a drug, ask yourself if the particle size may be to blame.
It’s so easy to point the finger at the doctor who wrote the “wrong” prescription, but if that drug was created with the wrong particle size, you just might have the same kind of reaction as if you’d been prescribed the wrong one.