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Original article
Content uniformity of quartered hydrocortisone tablets in comparison with mini-tablets for paediatric dosing
  1. Jude Madathilethu1,
  2. Matthew Roberts1,
  3. Matthew Peak2,
  4. Joanne Blair2,
  5. Rebecca Prescott1,
  6. James L Ford1
  1. 1 School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, UK
  2. 2 Paediatric Medicines Research Unit, Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, Liverpool, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Matthew Roberts; m.roberts1{at}


Objectives Children requiring cortisol replacement therapy are often prescribed hydrocortisone doses of 2.5 mg, but as this is commercially unavailable 10 mg tablets, with functional break lines, are split commonly in an attempt to deliver the correct dose. This study aimed to determine the dose variation obtained from quartered hydrocortisone tablets when different operators performed the splitting procedure and to ascertain whether better uniformity could be attained from mini-tablets as an alternative formulation.

Methods Hydrocortisone 10 mg tablets were quartered by four different operators using a standard pill splitter. Hydrocortisone 2.5 mg mini-tablets (3 mm diameter) were formulated using a wet granulation method and manufactured using a high-speed rotary press simulator. The weight and content uniformity of the quartered tablets and mini-tablets were assessed according to pharmacopoeial standards. The physical strength and dissolution profiles of the mini-tablets were also determined.

Results More than half of all quartered 10 mg tablets were outside of the ±10% of the stated US Pharmacopoeia hydrocortisone content (mean 2.34 mg, SD 0.36, coefficient of variation (CV) 15.18%) and more than 40% of the quartered tablets were outside the European Pharmacopoeia weight variation. Robust mini-tablets (tensile strengths of >4 MPa) were produced successfully. The mini-tablets passed the pharmacopoeial weight and content uniformity requirements (mean 2.54 mg, SD 0.04, CV 1.72%) and drug release criteria during in vitro dissolution testing.

Conclusion This study confirmed that quartering 10 mg hydrocortisone tablets produces unacceptable dose variations and that it is feasible to produce 3 mm mini-tablets containing more accurate doses for paediatric patients.

  • endocrinology
  • congenital abnorm
  • general paediatrics
  • basic science

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  • Contributors All authors planned the study, were involved in study design and critically revised the manuscript. MR, RP, JM and MP collected the data. All authors participated in the analysis and interpretation of the data. MR, MP, JLF and JB drafted the manuscript.

  • Funding This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not- for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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