Mechanistic Modeling of Wet Stirred Media Milling for Production of Drug Nanosuspensions

AAPS PharmSciTech. 2020 Nov 22;22(1):2. doi: 10.1208/s12249-020-01876-w.


Drug nanocrystals have been used for a wide range of drug delivery platforms in the pharmaceutical industry, especially for bioavailability enhancement of poorly water-soluble drugs. Wet stirred media milling (WSMM) is the most widely used process for producing dense, stable suspensions of drug nanoparticles, also referred to as nanosuspensions. Despite a plethora of review papers on the production and applications of drug nanosuspensions, modeling of WSMM has not been thoroughly covered in any review paper before. The aim of this review paper is to briefly expose the pharmaceutical scientists and engineers to various modeling approaches, mostly mechanistic, including computational fluid dynamics (CFD), discrete element method (DEM), population balance modeling (PBM), coupled methods, the stress intensity-number model (SI-SN model), and the microhydrodynamic (MHD) model with a main focus on the MHD model for studying the WSMM process. A total of 71 studies, 30 on drugs and 41 on other materials, were reviewed. Analysis of the pharmaceutics literature reveals that WSMM modeling is largely based on empirical, statistically based modeling approaches, and mechanistic modeling could help pharmaceutical engineers develop a fundamental process understanding. After a review of the salient features and various pros-cons of each modeling approach, recent advances in microhydrodynamic modeling and process insights gained therefrom were highlighted. The SI-SN and MHD models were analyzed and critiqued objectively. Finally, the review points out potential research directions such as more mechanistic and accurate CFD-DEM-PBM simulations and the coupling of the MHD-PBM models with the CFD.

Keywords: drug nanoparticles; microhydrodynamics; modeling; process development; wet stirred media milling.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Drug Compounding / methods*
  • Drug Delivery Systems / methods
  • Nanoparticles / chemistry*
  • Particle Size
  • Solubility
  • Suspensions
  • Water / chemistry


  • Suspensions
  • Water