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Capsugel releases new data on Vcaps Plus technology

By Hank Schultz , 17-Oct-2012

Capsugel, a leader in gelcap technology in both the pharmaceutical and dietary supplement realms, presented new data on the dissolution rates of its plant-based capsules made from hypromellose (HPMC), showing them to have significant advantages over capsules made with a gelling system.

The new study was released Wednesday at the the American Association of Pharmaceutical Sciences Annual Meeting and Exposition in Chicago. 

“Today’s findings confirm that plant-based HPMC capsules can be manufactured to produce consistent rates of dissolution independent of the dissolution media relative to both pH or cation nature and content while also providing a stable environment for moisture-sensitive ingredients,” said Dominique Cade, PhD, director of polymer science at Capsugel.

The plant-based hypromellose capsules have been on the market for a couple of years under the name of Vcaps Plus. What’s new is that the company now has precise data on how these capsules stack up against their gelatin-based peers, Missy Lowery, MS, Capsugel’s marketing manager for North and South America told NutraIngredients-USA.

“We had not done any kind of comparative analysis of the product,” she said.

The product has been a hit in the nutraceutical market both for its vegetarian, kosher and halal attributes, but also because it performs well on the production line.

“It’s a smooth capsule that looks like gelatin.  This product has been very successful in the dietary supplement market because it looks beautiful; very smooth and very clear.”

Plant-based capsules outperform gelatin

The new study compares the in vitro performance of the Vcaps Plus versus an HPMC capsule using carrageenan as a gelling agent.

“On the capsules that use gelling systems you have a wide variety of performance behaviors depending on what the dissolution medium is.  In the case of a simulated milk fluid, the capsule with the gelling medium after an hour it had hardly disintegrated.  So think about that, if you were to take your product with a glass of milk you might not even be able to have it release in the body,” she said.

The data shows that in the simulated milk fluid the Vcaps Plus released 90% of its contents (caffeine was used in the study) after 30 minutes, while the gelling-system capsule released only 30%.  The figures for the same test using an acidic medium were 90% and 50%, respectively.

Pharma data applies to supplements, too

The capsules were originally developed for the pharmaceutical applications, but the lessons learned applied to nutraceutical delivery as well, Lowery said.

“There are certain situations when a gelatin capsule doesn’t work as well.  When we have botanical ingredients that are extremely hydroscopic, like a probiotic for example, they tend to pull water out of the gelatin shell and tend to lead to brittleness over time,” she said.

The data on capsule dissolution will benefit pharmaceutical and nutraceutical customers alike, Lowery said.

“It’s especially important with the pharmaceutical arena because they have to present data to the FDA to get the products approved. They have to be able to demonstrate how and when the product disintegrates.

“The good news for the dietary supplement industry is they now have that information as well,” she said.

Lowery said the new data will be of special interest to the increasing number of dietary supplement products that seeking to incorporate a time release delivery system into their formulations.

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