The generation of tribo-electric charge during pharmaceutical powder processing can cause a range of complications, including segregation of components leading to content uniformity and particle surface adhesion. This phenomenon becomes problematical when excipients are introduced to a powder mixture alongside the highly charging active pharmaceutical ingredient(s) (APIs). The aim of this study was to investigate the tribo-electric charging and adhesion properties of a model drug, theophylline. Moreover, binary powder mixtures of theophylline with methylcellulose (MC) and hydroxypropyl methylcellulose (HPMC), having different polymer to drug ratios, were formed in order to study the impact of polymer concentration, particle size, substitution ratio and molecular size on the tribo-electric charging and surface adhesion properties of the drug. Furthermore, the relationship between tribo-electric charging and surface adhesion was also studied. The diversity in physicochemical properties of MC/HPMC has shown a significant impact on the tribo-electric charging and adhesion behaviour of theophylline. It was found that the magnitude of electrostatic charge and the level of surface adhesion of the API were significantly reduced with an increase in MC and HPMC concentration, substitution ratios and molecular size. In addition, the tribo-electric charge showed a linear relationship with particle surface adhesion, but the involvement of other forces cannot be neglected.
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