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August 4, 2003

Purdue Research Park company makes melt-in-your-mouth meds

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – A Purdue Research Park startup company is ready to market a new drug-delivery technology that will make it easier for people to take medicines in pill form.

Formulated tablet dissolving
Download photo - caption below

Researchers at Akina Inc. are developing Purdue University-licensed technologies that improve the ways in which prescription drugs, over-the-counter medicines and even vitamins are administered orally. The venture's latest technology, called Frosta™, involves tablet formulations that can melt in a patient's mouth as quickly as 10 seconds – much faster than existing commercial products made by tablet press machines. The fast-melting nature of the tablets resembles the melting of frost, hence the name Frosta™.

"This kind of fast-melting tablet is good for those patients who have trouble taking pills without gagging, especially the elderly and children," said Kinam Park, Akina's chief executive officer and a Purdue professor of pharmaceutics and biomedical engineering. "Our technology also enables patients to take pills without water, and that's important for people who are on the go."

Fast-melting tablets (also called fast-dissolving tablets, fast-disintegrating tablets and fast-dispersing tablets) now on the market are made using one of two methods: by freeze-drying a liquid dosage into a solid dosage form (similar to freeze-dried ice cream) or by making tablets using conventional tablet press machines.

"The freeze-drying method produces tablets that are fast-melting, but crumble easily, and this presents a number of difficulties in manufacturing and usage," Park said. "On the other hand, fast-melting tablets produced on press machines are relatively strong, but often fail to melt quickly.

"Our technology enables pharmaceutical companies to manufacture fast-melting tablets on conventional tablet press machines, and that gives drug makers a low production cost advantage. This is an important component in our industry as health care costs continue to rise."

The Frosta™ approach requires that certain saccharides (also called sugars or carbohydrates) are selected for their unique properties, then mixed and formed into granular particles. These wet granules are dried in the air or in an oven, and then compressed to form tablets.

Using this technique, the formed tablets won't break apart easily and they remain intact even when dropped from 6 feet onto a hard surface, Park said.

Fast-melting tablets on the market today must be packaged individually, but tablets manufactured using the Frosta™ technology are strong and stable enough to be packaged in a bottle containing multiple tablets. Because the Frosta™ technology is relatively inexpensive to process and package, the formulation can be used for any drugs, and not just expensive ones, Park said.

Also, this technology is not limited to the pharmaceutical or dietary supplement arenas. Other applications where the fast-melting action would be beneficial include, for example, swimming pool cleaning chemicals.

Founded in 2001 with labs in one of the Purdue Research Park's three business incubators, Akina also is sublicensing other drug-delivery technologies including delivery vehicles for poorly water-soluble drugs, microcapsules for delivery of protein drugs, hydrogel tablets for oral controlled release, and surface coating technology for making drug-eluting stents, which provide time-released drugs.

Purdue Research Park, operated by the Purdue Research Foundation, encompasses 591 acres in West Lafayette, Ind. With 38 buildings, the park is home to 104 businesses, of which 58 are high-tech. These companies employ more than 2,200 people.

Writer: Jeanine S. Phipps, (765) 496-3133; jeanine@purdue.edu

Sources:

Kinam Park, (765) 494-7759, kpark@purdue.edu

Pedro Salcedo, Akina chief administrative officer, (765) 464-0390, ps@akinainc.com

 

PHOTO CAPTION:
Purdue Research Park company Akina Inc. is developing FrostaTM, a Purdue-licensed technology that allows pills to melt in a patient's mouth in as quickly as 10 seconds. This series of photographs shows a white FrostaTM formulated tablet being dissolved in a drop of water containing red dye for easy visualization.

A publication-quality photograph is available at http://ftp.purdue.edu/pub/uns/park.pills.jpeg.


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