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Medical grade silicone for implantable drug delivery

Healthcare 26.04.2021

Silicone has proven to be an effective excipient for active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) for implantable drug delivery, offering a number of well-established advantages – so well-established that it’s been the material of choice for many implantable devices for more than 60 years.

One of the reasons silicone is chosen so often as the best excipient for implantable devices is its ability to form a permeable matrix structure when cured – this creates space for API to inhabit and gradually pass through to the delivery point.

Methods for silicone to interact with API

There are a number of options available to the industry when it comes to biocompatible silicones. An important consideration before a manufacturer selects materials based on the features that they require, is which method will be used to treat the silicone in order for it to interact with the API.

Whether you are choosing a full blending method prior to cure, curing the silicone to act as a reservoir, or using a solvent-API solution to impregnate a cured component – each method has its own impact on the integrity of the silicone and present different challenges for the development process. With this in mind, how can manufacturers choose the best silicone material for their implantable drug delivery devices?

Silicones for implantable drug delivery

How do the various types of silicone impact drug delivery devices?

HCR, LSR or Adhesive?

High Consistency Rubber/Heat Cured Rubber (HCR) has a claylike consistency in its raw state, giving it a stronger green strength that enables the holding of a shape while heat is being applied to cure the material. Typically, advantages include higher tensile strength, elongation, and tear strength. When using HCRs, manufacturers can use the extrusion process in order to make tubes or profiles and this continuous process also allows for automated cutting that can produce large quantities of simple parts quickly.

Liquid Silicone Rubbers (LSRs) are designed for molding applications, most commonly injection molding. For implantable drug delivery devices, LSRs can be full standalone devices or combined with other substrates via over-molding. The main advantage LSRs offer is the capability for the widest range of component design potential due to the ability to flow into much smaller geometries than HCRs and the fact that injection molding can be fully automated. Additionally, mixing API into LSRs is simpler, without the necessity for creating a masterbatch.

Adhesives serve more as a complementary addition to implantable drug-device substrates. They perform multiple roles, including bonding elements together and being able to elute an API. They can be deposited extremely accurately using manual or automated dispensers, making them ideal for a cure-in-place drug delivery element, as well as ensuring that the correct amount of silicone eluting an API is placed where it is needed.

Elkem Silicones works closely with customers in various industries across the globe to provide innovative silicone solutions. Our team has developed a full range of HCRs, LSRs, and Adhesives to meet the strict requirements for implantable drug delivery devices.