today we were studying oral novel drug delivery systems. The class was prerecorded (due to pandemic) There was this table in the slides "strategies and benefits of modifying drug release table" and I don't know what book it is. enter image description here

So as you see, the last one is about prevent release. Our professor only mentioned that this system has the drug in it but it does not release at all, so it does not have any therapeutic benefit. It is stated it is used for opioids for avoiding abuse.

My question is: Why do we load active substance when we don't want any release? What is the difference between this system and placebo?

  • I found the answer anyway, it is just because we cannot lie about product material in market products, so its effect is same as placebo. Placebo can only be used in clinical trials, not in real market legally.
    – Ruby
    Apr 24, 2020 at 20:29
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    – D.Tan
    Apr 25, 2020 at 16:49

1 Answer 1


I think you're missing the point still.

The "benefit" column in that table is about benefits of the modification, not the drug. A drug modified to prevent release in vitro (kind of a weird phrasing..) is designed to require an additional processing step that occurs when the drug is taken normally (often orally), but not when it is abused (like ground up and inhaled). So, instead of including the active ingredient in a pill, you use a prodrug that needs to undergo a chemical reaction in the digestive system before being effective.

This modification doesn't have any added benefit for the person taking the drug normally, but it still has the same therapeutic benefit as the unmodified drug. The benefit it has is the societal benefit of (slightly) discouraging abuse.

  • 1
    @GrahamChiu That's a bit condescending, I know what "in vitro" means. The reason I think it's weird phrasing is that the purpose of these modifications is typically not limited to "preventing release in vitro", it's preventing release when administered non-orally. Sometimes it's not really even about preventing release at all but about co-administering an antagonist or including a noxious/irritating component. There's nothing in vitro about inhaling or injecting a drug. There's no concern for abuse of these drugs in vitro.
    – Bryan Krause
    Apr 25, 2020 at 0:05
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    @GrahamChiu But there's no reason to be concerned with an opiate being released outside the body...the concern is administering it in a way that leads to negative in vivo consequences whether euphoria, respiratory depression, etc. I haven't previously seen these modifications referred to as "preventing in vitro" anything, they are usually presented as "abuse-deterrent" or similar.
    – Bryan Krause
    Apr 25, 2020 at 0:10
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    @GrahamChiu I get it, but it buries the lede. No one cares about the "test tube" release even if that's an assay.
    – Bryan Krause
    Apr 25, 2020 at 0:24
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    @GrahamChiu - It is a very weird phrasing, one that gave me a "huh?" moment. Maybe it's standard usage in pharmacological research, but, like, who cares if a drug meant to be used by living people (in vivo) doesn't release in vitro? Just fyi, I had buprenorphine certification, and never once came across that wording. Apr 25, 2020 at 1:46
  • 1
    @GrahamChiu I'd have gone with "Abuse Deterrent"
    – Bryan Krause
    Apr 25, 2020 at 2:34

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