A general method was developed to select the optimal salt form for BMS-180431, a novel HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor and a candidate for oral dosage form development, in an expeditious manner at the onset of the drug development process. The physicochemical properties such as hygroscopicity, physical stability of crystal forms at different humidity conditions, aqueous solubility, and chemical stability of seven salts e.g., sodium, potassium, calcium, zinc, magnesium, arginine and lysine, were studied using a multi-tier approach. The progression of studies among different tiers was such that the least time-consuming experiments were conducted earlier, thus saving time and effort. A ‘go/no go’ decision was made after each tier of testing the salts, thus avoiding generation of extensive data on all available salt forms. The hygroscopicities of all BMS-180431 salts were evaluated at tier 1 and four salts (sodium, potassium, calcium and zinc) were dropped from consideration due to excessive moisture uptake within the expected humidity range of pharmaceutical manufacturing plants (30–50% R.H. at ambient temperature). The remaining three salts were subjected to the tier 2 evaluation for any change in their crystal structures with respect to humidity and the determination of their aqueous solubilities in the gastrointestinal pH range. The magnesium salt was dropped from further consideration due to humidity-dependent changes in its crystal structure and low solubility in water (3.7 mg/ml at room temperature). Arginine and lysine salts, which were resistant to any change in their crystalline structures under extremes of humidity conditions (6 and 75% R.H.) and had high aqueous solubilities (> 200 mg/ml), were elevated to tier 3 for the determination of their chemical stability. Based on solid state stability of these two salts under accelerated conditions (temperature, humidity, and presence of excipients), consideration of ease of synthesis, ease of analysis, potential impurities, etc., and input from the marketing group with respect to its preference of counter ion species, the arginine salt was selected for further development. The number of tiers necessary to reach a decision on the optimal salt form of a compound may depend on the physicochemical properties studied and the number of salts available. This salt selection process can be completed within 4–6 weeks and be easily adopted in the drug development program.
Keywords: Salt selection; HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor; BMS-180431; Hygroscopicity; Arginine salt; Lysine salt