Polymeric prodrugs have become an increasingly popular strategy for improving the pharmacokinetic properties of active pharmaceutical ingredients (API). Therefore, identifying a robust method for quantification of the API in these prodrug products is a key part of the drug development process. Current drug quantification methods include hydrolysis followed by reversed phase high-performance liquid chromatography (RP-HPLC), size exclusion chromatography (SEC)-based molecular weight determination, and mass spectrometry. These methods tend to be time-consuming and often require challenging method development. Here, we present a comparative study highlighting the automated elemental analyzer as a facile approach to drug quantification in this up-and-coming class of therapeutics. A polymeric prodrug using poly(L-lysine succinylated) (PLS) and the drug lamivudine (LAM) was prepared and analyzed using the elemental analyzer in comparison to the traditional approaches of hydrolysis followed by RP-HPLC and SEC using multi-angle light scattering (MALS) detection. The elemental analysis approach showed excellent agreement with the conventional methods but proved much less laborious, highlighting this as a rapid and sensitive analytical method for the quantitative determination of drug loading in polymeric prodrug products.
Keywords: Drug loading; Elemental analysis; Nanomedicine; Nanoparticle; Polymer–drug conjugates; Prodrug.