Currently, worldwide sales of drugs that incorporate a fast-dissolve technology are running at more than $1 billion, but have an annual growth rate of 40 per cent or more fuelled by patient demand for easy-to-swallow formulations.
Antares has been granted a US patent (No 6,696,085) on the use of acrylic polymers as the disintegration agent in fast-melt tablets, designed to dissolve on the tongue and to be taken without water.
The methacrylic copolymers described in the patent are already widely used in sustained-release preparations and as enteric coatings for tablets, and also as taste-masking agents.
Researchers at Antares discovered that, unexpectedly, the copolymers are capable of improving the disintegration speed of a tablet, producing tablets that have good physical properties in terms of hardness, friability and cohesion.
These characteristics simplify the packaging and storage of the tablets, according to the patent. Specifically, they do not require packaging specifically adapted to the protection of the structure of these tablets, such as packaging with a peel-off film so as to avoid the extraction of the tablet from its cell by pushing with a finger.
And the properties of the disintegrant also mean that the fast-melt tablets produced using the technology have good stability and a long shelf-life.
In addition, the copolymers are very easy to work with and can be used to make tablets using simple direct compression on conventional equipment. This is in contrast to competing technologies which can require more complex production techniques such as wet granulation. They can also be used in combination with other disintegrants, such as BASF's Kollidon brand of crospovidone.
Antares is commercialising the technology under the Easy-Tec brand, and said the US patent would put it in a better position to forge licensing deals for the disintegrant with pharmaceutical partners.
The company, which has also developed a transdermal gel technology and needle-free and mini-needle injector systems, raised $14.6 million (€11.7m) in a private placement last week.