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Pharmaceutical Manufacturing and Packing Sourcer

Sticking and Picking

Tablet sticking and picking challenges are ubiquitous in the tablet manufacturing industry whether pharmaceutical, nutraceutical, or confectionary. Often, in the regulated world of drug-product manufacturing, developing new molecule offerings has a sense of urgency. However, this urgency can result in hasty decisions to begin clinical trials or submit for regulatory approval with a formulation that ultimately results in unanticipated compression scaleup problems.

The design process for an oral solid dosage form often overlooks some of the seemingly minor details of tablet design. This can result in defects as the manufacturing scaleup increases from clinical to full patientpopulation supply. Pharma company marketing departments’ desires to use certain tablet shapes and logos to enhance brand recognition are a source of design constraints, often resulting in post-approval manufacturing complications. Compression tooling manufacturers can often identify potential sticking and picking issues before tablet and tool designs have been finalised, reducing the challenge shared by the tablet manufacturer and the tooling vendor.

Sticking and picking issues generally arise from either formulation or tablet design inadequacies. Both emerge because of the differences in physical properties of the formulation excipients and drug substance. The process of blending components of a formulation results in a powder that will either consolidate and compress or not. As failure to compress into a tablet is a separate issue, only powders that compress will be considered.

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Dr Charles N Kettler is Director at Natoli Scientific. He received his PhD in analytical chemistry from the University of Tennessee, US, studying laser-based detectors for open tubular liquid chromatography. Charles has worked in the area of process analytical technology for more than 20 years in the chemical and pharma industries, implementing off-the-shelf and custom-designed measurement systems for process control. His current interest is understanding the first principles source of sticking of formulation to compression tools. Charles is currently co-director of the Natoli Institute for Industrial Pharmacy Research and Development at the Arnold and Marie Schwartz School of Pharmacy at Long Island University, US.
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Dr Charles N Kettler
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