Repurposing Melt Degradation for the Evaluation of Mixed Amorphous-Crystalline Blends

Sumayah Abdul-jabbar, Daniel W. Wong, Gary P. Martin, Brendon Woodhead, Paul G. Royall*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Medicine regulators require the melting points for crystalline drugs, as they are a test for chemical and physical quality. Many drugs, especially salt-forms, suffer concomitant degradation during melting; thus, it would be useful to know if the endotherm associated with melt degradation may be used for characterising the crystallinity of a powder blend. Therefore, the aim of this study was to investigate whether melt-degradation transitions can detect amorphous content in a blend of crystalline and amorphous salbutamol sulphate. Salbutamol sulphate was rendered amorphous by freeze and spray-drying and blended with crystalline drug, forming standards with a range of amorphous content. Crystalline salbutamol sulphate was observed to have a melt-degradation onset of 198.2±0.2°C, while anhydrous amorphous salbutamol sulphate prepared by either method showed similar glass transition temperatures of 119.4±0.7°C combined. Without the energy barrier provided by the ordered crystal lattice, the degradation endotherm for amorphous salbutamol sulphate occurred 50°C below the melting point, with an onset of 143.6±0.2°C. The enthalpies for this degradation transition showed no significant difference between freeze- and spray-dried samples (p>0.05). Distinct from convention, partial integration of the crystalline melt-degradation endotherm was applied to the region 193–221°C which had no contribution from the degradation of amorphous salbutamol sulphate. The linear correlation of these partial areas with amorphous content, R2=0.994, yielded limits of detection and quantification of 0.13% and 0.44% respectively, independent of drying technique. Melt-degradation transitions may be re-purposed for the measurement of amorphous content in powder blends, and they have potential for evaluating disorder more generally.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105
JournalAAPS PharmSciTech
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021


  • amorphous content
  • amorphous-crystalline blends
  • differential scanning calorimetry
  • melt degradation
  • salbutamol sulphate


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