Drug diffusion from polymeric delivery devices: a problem with two moving boundaries


  • Mike Hsieh
  • Scott W. McCue
  • Timothy J. Moroney
  • Mark I. Nelson




An existing model for solvent penetration and drug release from a spherically shaped polymeric drug delivery device is revisited. The model has two moving boundaries, one that describes the interface between the glassy and rubbery states of the polymer, and another that defines the interface between the polymer ball and the pool of solvent. The model is extended so that the nonlinear diffusion coefficient of drug explicitly depends on the concentration of solvent, and the resulting equations are solved numerically using a front fixing transformation together with a finite difference spatial discretisation and the method of lines. We present evidence that our scheme is much more accurate than a previous scheme. Asymptotic results in the small time limit are presented, which show how the use of a kinetic law as a boundary condition on the innermost moving boundary dictates qualitative behaviour, the scalings being very different to the similar moving boundary problem that arises from modelling the melting of an ice ball. The implication is that the model considered here exhibits what is referred to as non-Fickian or Case~II diffusion which, together with the initially constant rate of drug release, has certain appeal from a pharmaceutical perspective. References
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