Formulation Development

Pharmaceutical
Spray Drying

A guide to the most versatile formulation technology
in the pharmaceutical industry

Enhance the solubility and bioavailability of poorly soluble APIs

Pharmaceutical Spray drying is a simple yet incredibly flexible technology that can transform liquids into powders in seconds.

Manipulation of either the feed solution composition and/or the spray drying process parameters allows the creation of spray-dried powders with a range of both physical and aerodynamic properties.

Whilst formulation and process development for pharmaceutical spray drying can be readily undertaken at a small, even milligram scale if the drug is in short supply, the process is highly reproducible and scalable, with established models allowing straightforward scale up to produce kilograms of material for toxicology and clinical studies.

There are several key features of the spray drying process that can be manipulated to enhance the formulation and delivery of small molecules and biologics. In many cases, several of these features can be combined and as a result the target product performance profile can subsequently be achieved.

Bi-fluid Nozzle inside a Niro Mobile Minor Spray Dryer in Upperton's GMP Clean suite
Bi-fluid Nozzle inside a Niro Mobile Minor Spray Dryer in Upperton's GMP Clean suite

What is Pharmaceutical Spray Drying?

Pharmaceutical Spray drying is a simple yet incredibly flexible technology that can transform liquids into powders in seconds.

Manipulation of either the feed solution composition and/or the spray drying process parameters allows the creation of spray-dried powders with a range of both physical and aerodynamic properties.

Whilst formulation and process development for pharmaceutical spray drying can be readily undertaken at a small, even milligram scale if the drug is in short supply, the process is highly reproducible and scalable, with established models allowing straightforward scale up to produce kilograms of material for toxicology and clinical studies.

There are several key features of the spray drying process that can be manipulated to enhance the formulation and delivery of small molecules and biologics. In many cases, several of these features can be combined and as a result the target product performance profile can subsequently be achieved.

Benefits of spray drying

Enhanced bioavailability of poorly soluble compounds

Consistent particle size distribution

Alternative to freeze drying to stabilise biologics

Enables modified release dosage forms

Applications of Pharmaceutical Spray Drying

Pharmaceutical spray drying offers versatile applications in various drug delivery methods.

It excels in particle engineering, making it ideal for pulmonary and nasal delivery systems, where precise particle size and distribution are crucial for effective drug deposition.

Additionally, spray drying facilitates the production of solid dosage forms like capsules and tablets, ensuring uniform drug delivery and dosage accuracy. Furthermore, it enables the creation of solid dispersion systems (SDDs), enhancing bioavailability by improving drug solubility and dissolution rates, thus optimizing therapeutic outcomes.

  • Particle engineering –  ideal for pulmonary and nasal delivery
  • Improved bioavailability by producing SDDs
  • Production of solid dosage forms – capsules and tablets
  • Modified release – modify PK/sustained release
  • Stabilisation of biologicals – a viable, more cost-effective alternative to freeze-drying
spray dried particles diagram

The spray drying process

Spray drying is a simple yet incredibly flexible technology that can transform liquids into powders in seconds. Manipulation of feed solution composition and process parameters allows the creation of spray-dried powders with a range of physical and aerodynamic properties.

This ability to ‘engineer’ the physical properties of the powders produced has made spray drying one of the fastest growing and most versatile processing technologies in the pharma and biotech industries. This technology is now being used to manufacture a wide range of dosage forms, with actives including small molecule APIs through to large, complex biologics.

Whilst formulation and process development for spray drying can be readily undertaken at a small, even milligram scale if the drug is in short supply, the process is highly reproducible and scalable, with established models allowing straightforward scale up to produce kilograms of material for toxicology and  clinical studies.

There are several key features of the spray drying process that can be manipulated to enhance the formulation and delivery of small molecules and biologics. In many cases, several of these features can be combined to achieve the target product performance profile. These can be summarised as follows:

Spray Drying ProcessPharmaceutical Application
Spray drying a solution of API and excipients(s) to create a dry powder
  • Producing dry powders for capsules/tablets
  • Stabilisation of biologics (alternative to freeze drying)
  • Enhanced solubility/bioavailability of poorly soluble APIs
Spray drying to create particles with defined size/aerodynamic properties
  • Engineering powders for nasal delivery
  • Engineering powders for pulmonary delivery
Modified solubility/release by co-spray drying with enteric polymers
  • Targeted release of API in the GI tract
  • Localised/delayed release profile

Spray Drying Expertise

Upperton is world-renowned for its’ spray drying expertise. We have a range of spray dryers available, from development dryers that can work with the smallest quantities (milligrams) of drug, to pilot-scale dryers that can produce kilogram quantities of powder in a single day of operation. These are available in our research and development facility, and in our GMP facility, meaning that processes can be easily and seamlessly developed, scaled up and then transferred for clinical manufacture.

Frequently Asked Questions

Pharmaceutical spray drying is a process that converts a liquid solution or suspension into a dry powder form. It involves atomizing the liquid into fine droplets and then rapidly drying these droplets by exposing them to a stream of hot air or gas, causing the solvent to evaporate and leaving behind solid particles.

Spray drying offers several advantages in pharmaceutical formulations, including precise control over particle size and distribution, improved solubility of poorly soluble drugs, enhanced bioavailability, ease of scale-up, and versatility in producing various dosage forms such as powders, granules, and microspheres.

Pharmaceutical spray drying can be used to produce a wide range of products, including inhalable powders for pulmonary and nasal delivery, solid dispersion systems (SDDs) to improve drug solubility, modified release formulations for controlled drug release, and stable formulations of biologics.

We’re here to help

If you’re looking to work with a CDMO with extensive experience in overcoming solubility challenges through spray drying, then we’re here to help.
Speak to our team to discuss your requirements.