The solubility-permeability interplay and its implications in formulation design and development for poorly soluble drugs

Arik Dahan, Jonathan M. Miller

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    172 Scopus citations


    While each of the two key parameters of oral drug absorption, the solubility and the permeability, has been comprehensively studied separately, the relationship and interplay between the two have been largely ignored. For instance, when formulating a low-solubility drug using various solubilization techniques: what are we doing to the apparent permeability when we increase the solubility? Permeability is equal to the drug's diffusion coefficient through the membrane times the membrane/aqueous partition coefficient divided by the membrane thickness. The direct correlation between the intestinal permeability and the membrane/aqueous partitioning, which in turn is dependent on the drug's apparent solubility in the GI milieu, suggests that the solubility and the permeability are closely associated, exhibiting a certain interplay between them, and the current view of treating the one irrespectively of the other may not be sufficient. In this paper, we describe the research that has been done thus far, and present new data, to shed light on this solubility-permeability interplay. It has been shown that decreased apparent permeability accompanies the solubility increase when using different solubilization methods. Overall, the weight of the evidence indicates that the solubility-permeability interplay cannot be ignored when using solubility-enabling formulations; looking solely at the solubility enhancement that the formulation enables may be misleading with regards to predicting the resulting absorption, and hence, the solubility-permeability interplay must be taken into account to strike the optimal solubility-permeability balance, in order to maximize the overall absorption.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)244-251
    Number of pages8
    JournalAAPS Journal
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - 1 Jun 2012


    • BCS class II compounds
    • Drug solubility
    • Intestinal permeability
    • Oral absorption
    • Poor aqueous solubility
    • Solubility-enabling formulations
    • Solubility-permeability tradeoff

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Pharmaceutical Science


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