An injectable system of levonorgestrel (LNG) was developed using biodegradable polymer of natural origin. The parenteral system was optimized for particle size and higher drug loading. The microparticulate system was characterised by scanning electron microscopy, encapsulation efficiency, moisture content, IR, DSC, XRD, residual solvent content, sterility testing, test of abnormal toxicity and test for pyrogens. The microparticles were sterilised by gamma irradiation (2.5 Mrad). The system was injected intramuscularly in rabbits and the blood levels of LNG were determined using radioimmunoassay technique. An optimized drug to polymer ratio of 0.3-1.0 (w/w ratio) gave improved drug loading of about 52%. In vivo studies in rabbits showed that the drug was released in a sustained manner for a period of 1 month. The AUC0-t was found to be 9363.6 ± 2340 pg/mL day-1 with MRT calculated to be about 16 days and Kel of 0.01 day-1. LNG levels were maintained between 200 and 400 pg/mL. In vivo release exhibited an initial burst effect which was not observed in the in vitro dissolution. This promising "Progestin-only" long-term contraceptive with improved user compliance is an alternative to the synthetic expensive polymeric carriers. © 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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