Torben Laursen

Liquid growth hormone: preservatives and buffers

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review

  • Anne-Marie Kappelgaard, Novo Nordisk A/S, Denmark
  • Bojesen Anders, Medicinsk Endokrinologisk Afdeling MEA, Denmark
  • Karen Skydsgaard, Novo Nordisk A/S, Denmark
  • I Sjögren, Novo Nordisk A/S, Denmark
  • Torben Laursen
Growth hormone (GH) treatment is a successful medical therapy for children and adults with GH deficiency as well as for growth retardation due to chronic renal disease, Turner syndrome and in children born small for gestational age. For all of these conditions, treatment is long term and patients receive daily subcutaneous injections of GH for many years. Patient compliance is therefore of critical importance to ensure treatment benefit. One of the major factors influencing compliance is injection pain. Besides the injection device used, pain perception and local tissue reaction following injection are dependent on the preservative used in the formulation and the concentration of GH. Injection pain may also be related to the buffer substance and injection volume. A liquid formulation of GH, Norditropi SimpleXx, has been developed that dispenses with the need for reconstitution before administration. The formulation uses phenol (3 mg/ml) as a preservative (to protect product from microbial degradation or contamination) and histidine as a buffer. Alternative preservatives used in other GH formulations include m-cresol (9 mg/ml) and benzyl alcohol (3-9 mg/ml). Buffering agents include citrate and phosphate. Phenol has been successfully used as a preservative in drug formulations for more than 50 years and is considered a safe and effective agent which complies with strict international requirements for preservatives in drug formulations. In toxicological studies, no or only mild local reactions have been observed following subcutaneous administration of phenol (7.5 mg/ml), m-cresol (3-4 mg/ml) and benzyl alcohol (9 mg/ml). No general toxicity reactions were observed after subcutaneous administration of these agents. Clinical evaluation of the preservatives and buffers used in Norditropin SimpleXx showed that pain perception was similar between formulations containing phenol and benzyl alcohol, whereas m-cresol was associated with more painful injections than benzyl alcohol. Furthermore, patients reported more pain following injection of a citrate-buffered solution than after a histidine-buffered solution. More pain was also reported following large volume injections and following injections with solutions containing high protein concentrations. In summary, optimization of the preservative and buffer content of a liquid GH formulation may reduce injection pain and lead to improved patient compliance.
2004 S. Karger AG, Basel.
Original languageEnglish
JournalHormone Research
Pages (from-to)98-103
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 2004

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