Cardinal Health has entered into a licensing agreement that gives it access to an electrostatic tablet-coating process and drug delivery technologies developed by Phoqus Pharmaceuticals of the UK.
The agreement also covers various drug delivery technologies and an anti-counterfeiting process that Phoqus has developed, Cardinal will provide contract manufacturing of products based on the technologies, and co-market them around the world.
Phoqus' coating technology - called LeQtracoat - is based on the same electrostatic deposition principle used in photocopying - but in this case it is applied to coating and loading of active drug compounds onto the surface of tablets for oral delivery.
It can also be used to coat tablets with complex images, allowing strong branding and serving as a safeguard against counterfeiting (see inset picture).
Phoqus also offers three drug delivery platforms - fast dissolve (Qdis), modified release (Qtrol) and low-dose loading (LeQtracoat).
Qdis formulations dissolve in the mouth within 10-20 seconds, about the same as currently used fast melt systems, but has the advantage of creating harder tablets that are more robust and do not require special protective packaging, lowering production and distribution costs.
Qtrol consists of a matrix that can hold the active drug and an insoluble coating that can cover varying amounts of the tablet to control release of the compound. It is easy and quick to manufacture - reducing costs - and can generate complex release profiles that are difficult for generics companies to copy.
The LeQtradose system is unique in the marketplace, and can overcome content uniformity issues by enabling accurate and uniform loading of even very low drug dosages into the tablet coat, according to Phoqus. It is particularly well suited for the production of combination products, as the drug coating can be applied over a tablet core containing another drug, enabling separation of incompatible ingredients.
Different release profiles are possible for the two components, for example, a fast release coating holding one drug can be placed around a modified release core containing another.
For patients, these delivery technologies may improve therapeutic efficacy and enhance tolerability, reduce side effects, and make drugs more convenient. And for pharmaceutical companies, thetechnology creates distinctive brand images and identities and extends product lifecycles, said Cardinal.
Linking up with Cardinal Health will accelerate the penetration and use of Phoqus' technologies by the pharmaceutical industry, said Andy Jones, the UK-based company's chief executive.