Article

Pharmaceutical Research

, Volume 18, Issue 6, pp 859-866

First online:

Ritonavir: An Extraordinary Example of Conformational Polymorphism

  • John BauerAffiliated withPharmaceutical Products Division, Abbott Laboratories
  • , Stephen SpantonAffiliated withPharmaceutical Products Division, Abbott Laboratories
  • , Rodger HenryAffiliated withPharmaceutical Products Division, Abbott Laboratories
  • , John QuickAffiliated withPharmaceutical Products Division, Abbott Laboratories
  • , Walter DzikiAffiliated withPharmaceutical Products Division, Abbott Laboratories
  • , William PorterAffiliated withPharmaceutical Products Division, Abbott Laboratories
  • , John MorrisAffiliated withPharmaceutical Products Division, Abbott Laboratories

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access

Abstract

Purpose. In the summer of 1998, Norvir semi-solid capsules supplies were threatened as a result of a new much less soluble crystal form of ritonavir. This report provides characterization of the two polymorphs and the structures and hydrogen bonding network for each form.

Methods. Ritonavir polymorphism was investigated using solid state spectroscopy and microscopy techniques including solid state NMR, Near Infrared Spectroscopy, powder X-ray Diffraction and Single crystal X-ray. A sensitive seed detection test was developed.

Results. Ritonavir polymorphs were thoroughly characterized and the structures determined. An unusual conformation was found for form II that results in a strong hydrogen bonding network A possible mechanism for heterogeneous nucleation of form II was investigated.

Conclusions. Ritonavir was found to exhibit conformational polymorphism with two unique crystal lattices having significantly different solubility properties. Although the polymorph (form II) corresponding to the “cis” conformation is a more stable packing arrangement, nucleation, even in the presence of form II seeds, is energetically unfavored except in highly supersaturated solutions. The coincidence of a highly supersaturated solution and a probable heterogeneous nucleation by a degradation product resulted in the sudden appearance of the more stable form II polymorph.

polymorphism crystal forms ritonavir Norvir carbamate AIDS drug