For many Americans, the term ‘steroid’ brings to mind famous athletes who were disciplined for its use – Alex Rodriguez, Marion Jones, Lance Armstrong, to name a few. Yet the anabolic steroids used by these individuals are distinct from corticosteroids, which are critical to treatment of a plethora of ailments. Following are the primary modes of corticosteroid delivery and key points about their synthesis.
Dermatologic conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, and vitiligo are typically treated with topical corticosteroids (TCS), which work to reduce inflammation in affected skin areas. TCS are intended to affect only the area of application and not the entire system, hence their classification as local and not systemic corticosteroids. TCS are widely used, effective, and easy to apply; the biochemical structure was modeled after naturally-occurring corticosteroids produced in the adrenal gland. (1)
Semisolid preparations, such as topical ointments, oils, and lotions are frequently prepared using mechanical mixers. This mixing action facilitates dispersion, which forms a nice single-phase ointment. From there, homogenization helps to achieve smaller particle size and uniform distribution. (2) Key to this process is use of a high quality homogenizer, such as those produced by BEE International Technologies. For example, their laboratory homogenizers can achieve particle sizes below 100 nm in just one pass.
In contrast to TCS, oral and injectable steroids have the ability to affect all areas of the body, thus their classification as systemic steroids. Yet similar to TCS, systemic steroids are also revered for their anti-inflammatory properties, which can help treat conditions like arthritis, asthma, bronchitis, and colitis. (3) In determining which is a better option- injectable or oral steroid delivery- it may depend on the specific medication in question. However, various misconceptions exist about the ineffectiveness of oral medications, when in fact they can be a more sterile route than injectables; particularly in third-world countries or areas that are unsanitary, injectables carry a higher risk of disease transmission.
Regardless of the delivery method, whether oral or injectable, specific methods must be undertaken to synthesize high quality products. Oral medications in the form of tablets can contain sugar, film, enteric, or compression coatings, which inform the overall tablet composition. As with TCS, oral steroid production requires a homogenizer to achieve the vigorous mixing and granular dissolving required of a high quality product. Use of a high quality homogenizer, such as those from BEEI, can improve attractiveness, ease the swallowing process, and allow for appropropriate internal release. Injectable corticosteroids, distinct from oral delivery, require uniform distribution and small particle size, which can again be achieved via use of a high quality homogenizer.
No matter the delivery method, corticosteroids should be produced with high quality equipment to achieve a consistent and effective product. Homogenization is a key component of the synthesis process; thus, it is in every laboratory’s interest to invest in a high quality homogenizer. BEEI’s laboratory homogenizers can make products such as emulsions, dispersions, lipids, and suspensions, many of which can be used during corticosteroid synthesis.
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