Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Pharmaceutical Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Eric J. Munson

Second Advisor

Dr. Thomas Dziubla


Over the past few decades, amorphous solid dispersions (ASDs) have been of great interest to pharmaceutical scientists to address bioavailability issues associated with poorly water-soluble drugs. ASDs consist of an active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) that is typically dispersed in an inert polymeric matrix. Despite promising advantages, a major concern that has resulted in limited marketed formulations is the physical instability of these complex formulations. Physical instability is often manifested as phase heterogeneity, where the drug and carrier migrate and generate distinct phases, which can be a prelude to recrystallization. One important factor that dictates the physical stability of ASDs is the spatial distribution of API in the polymeric matrix. It is generally agreed that intimate mixing of the drug and polymer is necessary to achieve maximum stabilization, and thus understanding the factors controlling phase mixing and nano-domain structure of ASDs is crucial to rational formulation design. The focus of this thesis work is to better understand the factors involved in phase mixing on the nanometric level and get insights on the role of excipients on overall stabilization of these systems. The central hypothesis of this research is that an intimately mixed ASD will have better physical stability as compared to a partially homogeneous or a non-homogeneous system. Our approach is to probe and correlate phase homogeneity and intermolecular drug-excipient interactions to better understand the physical stability of ASDs primarily using solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance (SSNMR) spectroscopy and other solid-state characterization tools. A detailed investigation was carried out to understand the role of hydrogen bonding on compositional homogeneity on different model systems. A comprehensive characterization of ternary ASDs in terms of molecular interactions and physical stability was studied. Finally, long-term physical stability studies were conducted in order to understand the impact of different grades of a cellulosic polymer on phase homogeneity for two sets of samples prepared via different methods. Overall, through this research an attempt has been made to address some relevant questions pertaining to nano-phase heterogeneity in ASDs and provide a molecular level understanding of these complex systems to enable rational formulation design.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Funding Information

This research was supported by NSF I/UCRC Center for Pharmaceutical Development (IIP-1063879 and industrial contributions).

This research was also supported by UK College of Pharmacy (Excellence in Graduate Achievement Fellowship).