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  1. Advancing Regulatory Science

Chemoinformatic Tools to Predict the Effects of Excipients in Generic Drugs

CERSI Collaborators: Brian Shoichet, PhD (UCSF)

FDA Collaborators: Andrew Babiskin, PhD, Eleftheria Tsakalozou, PhD, Zhanglin Ni, PhD, Liang Zhao, PhD, Susan Zuk, MS, Robert Dorsam, PhD, Victoria Keck, MHA

Non-Federal Entity Collaborators: Laszlo Urban, MD, PhD (Novartis), Bryan Roth, MD, PhD (University of North Carolina (UNC), Chapel Hill)

Project Start Date: September 2015

Regulatory Science Challenge

Oral drug products such as tablets, capsules and solutions contain the active ingredient (medication) and various other ingredients that are considered to be therapeutically inactive. These inactive ingredients, called excipients, are included in oral products for various reasons, such as to enhance the stability of the active ingredient or change the color or taste. There is a longstanding belief that excipients are generally safe, inert and do not interact with drug targets. If excipients impact any factors involved in drug absorption or interact with drug targets, they can influence drug levels in the body and the pharmacologic effects of generic drugs. Because excipients can differ between brand name and generic products, these possible interactions could affect availability of the drug in the body or its effectiveness.

Project Description & Goals

The goals of this project are to:
1. Develop an open-access excipients database that contains the structures and physical properties of over 600 excipients used in approved FDA drug products (http://excipients.ucsf.bkslab.orgdisclaimer icon)

2. Systematically calculate and predict targets for all excipients used in FDA-approved drug products

3. Perform laboratory testing of excipients on predicted targets in labs of Drs. Giacomini (UCSF), Roth (UNC Chapel Hill) and Urban (Novartis).

4. Define excipient-drug and excipient-excipient combinations that may be particularly important to monitor using information available in databases

Ultimately, these studies will help FDA ensure drug safety and equivalency of generic drug products to brand name products.


A Molecular Basis for Innovation in Drug Excipients. Irwin JJ, Pottel J, Zou L, Wen H, Zuk S, Zhang X, Sterling T, Shoichet BK, Lionberger R, Giacomini KM. Clin Pharmacol Ther. 2016 Aug 24. [Epub ahead of print] PMID:27557422

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