Cellulose ethers have proven to be highly useful natural-based polymers, finding application in areas including food, personal care products, oil field chemicals, construction, paper, adhesives, and textiles. They have particular value in pharmaceutical applications due to characteristics including high glass transition temperatures, high chemical and photochemical stability, solubility, limited crystallinity, hydrogen bonding capability, and low toxicity. With regard to toxicity, cellulose ethers have essentially no ability to permeate through gastrointestinal enterocytes and many are already in formulations approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. We review pharmaceutical applications of these valuable polymers from a structure-property-function perspective, discussing each important commercial cellulose ether class; carboxymethyl cellulose, methyl cellulose, hydroxypropylcellulose, hydroxypropyl methyl cellulose, and ethyl cellulose, and cellulose ether esters including hydroxypropyl methyl cellulose acetate succinate and carboxymethyl cellulose acetate butyrate. We also summarize their syntheses, basic material properties, and key pharmaceutical applications.
Methylcellulose In the pharmaceutical industry, low- or medium-viscosity methylcellulose can be used as a binder for tablets and can also be used for tablet coating. High-viscosity methylcellulose can be used to disintegrate or as a backbone material for sustained release formulations. Methyl cellulose with high degree of substitution and low viscosity can be used in aqueous coatings, as well as suspending agents, thickeners, emulsion stabilizers, and protective colloids. Highly substituted, high-viscosity methylcellulose can be used in eye drops or as a base material for creams or gels.
Ethyl cellulose ECEthylcellulose is insoluble in water, but soluble in organic solvents such as ethanol. It also has good film-forming properties and can be used as a film coating for tablets that are sensitive to water. Ethylcellulose film becomes stronger and more durable as its viscosity increases. Used in combination with a water-soluble polymer to regulate the drug diffusion rate of the film-coated layer and used as a slow-release coating layer. The ultra-fine product can be used as the backbone material of the sustained-release preparation for direct compression. In addition, ethyl cellulose can be used as a binder in the wet granulation of ethanol, and is specially used for the granulation and compression of water-sensitive drugs. Can also be used as a thickener in creams, lotions, gels.Hypromellose HPMCHypromellose is a multifunctional medicinal adjuvant, which can be used as thickener, dispersant, emulsifier and film-forming agent. As a film coating, adhesive, etc. in oral solid preparations, it can significantly improve the stability and dissolution of the drug, and can enhance the water resistance of tablets. It is one of the raw materials for making plant capsules. It can also be used as a suspending agent in suspensions, as a matrix material in ophthalmic preparations, as a matrix material in hydrophilic gel matrix sustained-release tablets and gastric floating tablets.
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