Efficient Particle Analysis of Pharmaceuticals with FlowCam®

pharma-particles-imaged-by-flowcamProper characterization of particles in your drug product is important throughout the development and production process.

Particle analysis provides you with the data you need to ensure the stability, safety, and efficacy of your product.   

With FlowCam, you have an efficient and reliable method for particle characterization, helping you to bring drugs to market quickly and ensure quality and consistency throughout the drug development process.

Ensure Product Safety with FlowCam®

With industry-leading image quality combined with automated statistical pattern recognition software, FlowCam dynamic imaging particle analysis allows you to simultaneously count and classify particles in your sample - and provides you with the critical data you need to ensure product safety.

Using FlowCam overcomes the limitation of particle counters, while giving additional particle information typically only found by using microscopy.

Some examples of how FlowCam can be utilized for pharmaceutical applications include:

  • Microencapsulation formulation and quality control
  • Characterization of dry active pharmaceutical ingredients (API's), fillers, and excipients
  • Characterization of dry and rehydrated lyophilized particulates

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FlowCam® Pharmaceutical Application Examples

Dry Powder Analysis

While designed for the analysis of particulates in fluids, FlowCam is also very useful for analysis of particulates that are dry in their native state.  Simply suspend the dry particles in any liquid that is inert to the particles under study. There are many benefits to using this approach compared to traditional dry particle analysis method because the effects of static electricity on the particles is eliminated.  Plus any gravitational effects found in dry analyzers are eliminated.

Many pharmaceutical products and ingredients, such as active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs), fillers, and excipients are commonly supplied and handled as dry powders. Particle size and shape of the particulates is critical to product performance in many different aspects of the manufacturing process.  Particle shape is critical to flowability in the manufacturing process, as well as adherence when tabletized. It can also affect taste.  

In the example shown below, two samples of Sorbitol, supplied as a dry powder, were analyzed in the FlowCam system to determine particle size and shape. It was suspected that the two sources being used were supplying different quality product, and imaging particle analysis was the method chosen to characterize the samples. Since Sorbitol is water-soluble, mineral oil was used to suspend the particles for analysis in the FlowCam. The results clearly showed differences in the two samples.

Sorbitol Sample #1


Sorbitol Sample #2


Characterization of the Microencapsulation Process

Microencapsulation is a  process where a small amount of a substance (active ingredient) is packaged inside a second substance in order to shield the active ingredient from the surrounding environment.  Microencapsulation processes are increasingly being used in the pharmaceutical industry, as they offer many benefits, including:

  • Keeping active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) active and stable, which can lead to a longer shelf life
  • Ability to release on demand for more targeted drug delivery
  • Lower dose requirements
  • Masking odors and tastes in oral delivered medicines
  • Potential reduction in side-effects

FlowCam is being used by several drug manufacturers in formulation research and production applications where microencapsulation is being used in the delivery methods.  Using FlowCam, you can gain unique insights into the microencapsulation process because you can dynamically monitor capsule formation over time.  This allows you to determine the effects of temperature, concentration, pH, and other variables on the process in near real-time.

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FlowCam® Image Gallery of Pharmaceutical Samples

  • Pharmaceutical Coating Particles

    Pharmaceutical Coating Particles

  • Particles_found_in_a_protein_therapeutic

    Particles found in a protein therapeutic

  • Contaminants from a Sterile Injectable

    Contaminants from a Sterile Injectable

  • Microcapsules


  • Glass Microspheres

    Glass Microspheres

  • Microencapsules


application note

Application Note

Microencapsulation is commonly used in the pharmaceutical industry. See how the FlowCam can help improve the process.

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e-Book Guide

Learn more in The Ultimate Guide to Dynamic Imaging Particle Analysis for Protein Therapeutics.

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Customer Spotlight

See how GSK uses the FlowCam to quickly get the results they need to ensure quality in their formulations.