Ascertain a minimum coating thickness for acid protection of enteric coatings by means of optical coherence tomography

Matthias Wolfgang, Sandra Stranzinger, Johannes G. Khinast*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Enteric coatings are designed to protect active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) against untimely release in the stomach. Acid protection of such coatings depends on the coating layer thickness and integrity, which must be determined in an accurate and reliable way to ensure the final product's desired performance. Our work addresses the use of optical coherence tomography (OCT) for characterizing the coating thickness and variability of an enteric-coated drug product and linking them to resistance against gastric fluid. In this study, three batches of enteric-coated tablets drawn during the manufacturing process were investigated. An industrial OCT system was used to establish the coating thickness variability of single tablets (intra-tablet), all tablets in a batch (inter-tablet) and between the batches (inter-batch). Based on the large amount of OCT data, we calculated a critical coating thickness for the investigated film coating, which was found to be 27.4 µm. The corresponding distribution has a mean coating thickness of 44.3 µm ± 7.8 µm. The final coated product has a final mean coating thickness of 63.4 µm ± 8.7 µm, guaranteeing that all tablets meet the quality criterion (i.e., acid protection). Based on the measured thickness distributions, already known distribution functions were considered and an additional, new function was proposed for characterizing the coating thickness distributions in the early stages of industrial coating processes. The proposed approach can be transferred to in-line monitoring of the tablet coating processes, which could drastically improve the production efficiency by ultimately allowing real-time release testing (RTRT).

Original languageEnglish
Article number121680
JournalInternational Journal of Pharmaceutics
Publication statusPublished - 25 Apr 2022


  • Analytical technologies
  • Coating material attributes
  • Dissolution performance
  • Enteric coating
  • Optical coherence tomography (OCT)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmaceutical Science


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