In situ forming implants are attractive long-acting implant dosage forms due to their: i) ability to control drug release; ii) simple manufacturing process; and iii) minimally invasive administration. In situ forming implants are typically made of a drug, solvent, and a biocompatible polymer that controls drug release. Once injected in the subcutaneous tissue, they form solid depots through solvent/non-solvent exchange and phase separation of the biodegradable polymer (such as poly (lactic-co-glycolic acid), PLGA and poly (lactic acid), PLA). However, the mechanism of implant formation and the changes in their microstructure that determine drug release behavior are not fully understood. Furthermore, there is no standardized in vitro release testing method for in situ forming implants due to limitations in recreating bio-relevant and reproducible implant formation in vitro with controllable implant shape, dimensions and surface-to-volume ratio. In the present study, bio-relevant implant formation was recreated in vitro by testing five different methods to determine their effect on drug release kinetics, reproducibility, and internal microstructure formation. The leuprolide acetate formulation Eligard® was used as a model in situ-forming implant, consisting of lyophilized leuprolide acetate, and PLGA dissolved in N-methyl pyrrolidone. The results revealed that the in vitro implant formation method is a crucial step in the dissolution testing process that significantly impacts the release profile of in situ forming implants. An implant formation method that utilizes dissolvable polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) films allowed for initial drug burst release control by modulating implant dimensions (i.e. surface area) and resulted in reproducible in vitro release profiles. In addition, implant formation was shown to affect the internal microstructure of in situ forming implant and was the main factor controlling the release profile which consisted of an initial release phase followed by a release plateau (lag phase) and then a second erosion-controlled release phase.
- Implant formation
- In situ forming implant