The SuperCell Coating Technology (SCT) is designed to accurately deposit coating materials on tablets - even if they are friable or hygroscopic - and can handle batch sizes as little as 30 grams.
A spokesman for the company said that the system, due for its first official unveiling at the upcoming Biophex exhibition, is in the latter stages of development.
Niro claims that conventional methods of tablet coating have inconsistent and imperfect results, leading to no-regular results that can affect the behaviour of the tablet. This can impart an element of variability that gains in significance if a small run of tablets is being produced for clinical trials.
In conventional coaters, tablets are loaded in large rotating pans and vented for hot air drying, but this means tablet edges can get ground off, intagliations can get filled in by coating material and edges and corners may not be coated with the same thickness as the tablet faces.
These inaccuracies limit the use of modified release coatings, according to Niro. The SCT uses a technique in which the tablets are coated with the coating spray in the same direction as the drying gas. The result? More efficient and even coating, it claims.
Meanwhile, the SCT has an air distribution plate design which means that the tablets move quickly and predictably through the spray zone. This means a small amount of coating material gets added on each pass, which also helps boost the evenness of the result and makes it easier to handle friable or unusually shaped objects.
Another problem with conventional coating is that it requires large batches of tablets - several kilograms - to be coated at one time. This can be wasteful and costly, particularly for R&D of dosage forms. The SCT handles batches from 30 to 120 grams.
The SCT is quicker than conventional coaters - taking seconds or minutes rather than hours to complete the process - and this makes it suitable for handling very hygroscopic tablets that would degrade if exposed in the coater for extended periods of time.
"The accuracy of deposition is great enough that active pharmaceutical ingredients can be layered onto tablets, and uniform layers of taste-masking or modified release coatings can be applied consecutively, within a single batch," according to Niro.