, Volume 23, Issue 9, pp 1959-1969

Lipid Injectable Emulsions: Pharmacopeial and Safety Issues

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Lipid injectable emulsions have been routinely used in patients worldwide for over 40 years as a nutritional supplement in patients requiring parenteral nutrition. They can be given as a separate infusion or added into total parenteral nutrition admixtures. Despite such broad use, no pharmacopeial standards exist with respect to the optimal pharmaceutical characteristics of the formulation. Several attempts to establish standard physical and chemical attributes have been attempted by various pharmacopeias around the world, but without success largely due to technical issues regarding the creation of globule size limits. Recently, the United States Pharmacopeia has revised its previous efforts and developed two methods and criteria (under Chapter <729>) to measure the mean droplet size (Method I), and the large-diameter tail > 5 μm (Method II) of the globule size distribution to verify the stability of lipid injectable emulsions. Importantly, it is the latter size limits of Method II that have the greatest implications for infusion safety. The major safety issues involving lipid injectable emulsions include impairments in plasma clearance in susceptible patients, and the infusion of an unstable emulsion containing large quantities of potentially embolic fat globules. Recent animal studies investigating the toxicity from the infusion of unstable lipid injectable emulsions have shown evidence of oxidative stress and tissue damage to the liver when recommended globule size limits determined by Method II of the USP are exceeded. Adoption of Chapter <729> of the USP seems appropriate at this time.

Dr. Driscoll is a Consultant and/or Researcher in the area of lipids for AstraZeneca, B. Braun, Biolink and Hospira companies.