Salt formation improved the properties of a candidate drug during early formulation development

The purpose of this study was to investigate if AZD5329, a dual neurokinin NK1/2 receptor antagonist, is a suitable candidate for further development as an oral immediate release (IR) solid dosage form as a final product. The neutral form of AZD5329 has only been isolated as amorphous material. In order to search for a solid material with improved physical and chemical stability and more suitable solid-state properties, a salt screen was performed. Crystalline material of a maleic acid salt and a fumaric acid salt of AZD5329 were obtained. X-ray powder diffractiometry, thermogravimetric analysis, differential scanning calorimetry and dynamic vapor sorption were used to investigate the physicochemical characteristics of the two salts. The fumarate salt of AZD5329 is anhydrous, the crystallization is reproducible and the hygroscopicity is acceptable. Early polymorphism assessment work using slurry technique did not reveal any better crystal modification or crystallinity for the fumarate salt. For the maleate salt, the form isolated originally was found to be a solvate, but an anhydrous form was found in later experiments; by suspension in water or acetone, by drying of the solvate to 100–120 °C or by subjecting the solvate form to conditions of 40 °C/75%RH for 3 months. The dissolution behavior and the chemical stability (in aqueous solutions, formulations and solid-state) of both salts were also studied and found to be satisfactory. The compound displays sensitivity to low pH, and the salt of the maleic acid, which is the stronger acid, shows more degradation during stability studies, in line with this observation. The presented data indicate that the substance fulfils basic requirements for further development of an IR dosage form, based on the characterization on crystalline salts of AZD5329.