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Manufacture Small Molecules, Dosage Forms, Technology and Equipment

Has Tablet Manufacture Reached Its Peak?

This article was published in our sister publication, The Small Molecule Manufacturer, which celebrates the field of small molecule drug development and manufacturing with interviews and articles focusing on success stories, equipment, and new processing techniques.

Read more about The Small Molecule Manufacturer here.

The Panel

Robert Sedlock, Director of Technical Training & Development at Natoli Engineering. Natoli offers a full line of products and services to assist at all stages of the tablet and encapsulation production process.

Scott Koehler, Vice President, Sales & Marketing at Elizabeth Companies. Elizabeth started as a six-man machine shop in 1954 and has grown into a global provider of punches and dies, tablet presses, parts and services.

Matt Bundenthal, Director Sales and Marketing at Fette Compacting America. Fette has installed more than 5000 machines across the globe and specializes in tableting and capsule machinery.

Some would say that the tableting process hasn’t changed significantly over the years. What are your thoughts?

Robert Sedlock, Natoli Engineering

Robert Sedlock: I would say that the overall tableting process has remained the same; the core principles of compression and the basics of how tablet presses operate are largely unchanged. However, significant improvements have been made in the control systems and safety features of tablet presses. Adjustments to tablet weight or thickness are no longer made by mechanical handwheels but are now controlled through touchscreen human-machine interfaces (HMIs) and servo motors, for example.

Scott Koehler: I believe that is a fair comment from a fundamental perspective. It is both testimony to the longevity of a stable process technology, and the cost-effective nature of compressing solid dose products. It is also compelling that similar technology can apply across a wide variety of products and industries beyond pharmaceuticals. Though the basic process is common, the nuances are significant, which challenges both tablet manufacturers, who need to ensure their formulations have the right properties to work well in the equipment, and equipment manufacturers who are designing machines to be as flexible as possible.

Matt Bundenthal: Although the core process has not changed all that much, manufacturers are using increasingly creative approaches in terms of the form taken by finished tablets. This, in some cases, is prompted by marketing-driven initiatives, but can also be based on requirements for optimized bio-availability, or making a controlled substance more resistant to abuse, for example.

Like virtually everything else today, speed has become a driving force in tableting. While not every formulation lends itself to being compressed at high speeds, most end users would like their presses to compress their products as quickly as possible. And given the increasing prevalence of potent compounds, modern presses have to run quickly and maintain control more tightly than ever before.

Another significant change to the compression process is the degree to which electronic and computer controls have facilitated the attainment of this balance between speed and control. Results must be validatable, and repeatable, to the highest degree – something not practically attainable with the “manual” presses of old.

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About the Author

Stephanie Sutton

Making great scientific magazines isn’t just about delivering knowledge and high quality content; it’s also about packaging these in the right words to ensure that someone is truly inspired by a topic. My passion is ensuring that our authors’ expertise is presented as a seamless and enjoyable reading experience, whether in print, in digital or on social media. I’ve spent seven years writing and editing features for scientific and manufacturing publications, and in making this content engaging and accessible without sacrificing its scientific integrity. There is nothing better than a magazine with great content that feels great to read.

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