Replacing in vivo with in vitro studies can increase sustainability in the development of medicines. This principle has already been applied in the biowaiver approach based on the biopharmaceutical classification system, BCS. A biowaiver is a regulatory process in which a drug is approved based on evidence of in vitro equivalence, i.e., a dissolution test, rather than on in vivo bioequivalence. Currently biowaivers can only be granted for highly water-soluble drugs, i.e., BCS class I/III drugs. When evaluating poorly soluble drugs, i.e., BCS class II/IV drugs, in vitro dissolution testing has proved to be inadequate for predicting in vivo drug performance due to the lack of permeability interpretation. The aim of this review was to provide solid proofs that at least two commercially available cell-free in vitro assays, namely, the parallel artificial membrane permeability assay, PAMPA, and the PermeaPad® assay, PermeaPad, in different formats and set-ups, have the potential to reduce and replace in vivo testing to some extent, thus increasing sustainability in drug development. Based on the literature review presented here, we suggest that these assays should be implemented as alternatives to (1) more energy-intense in vitro methods, e.g., refining/replacing cell-based permeability assays, and (2) in vivo studies, e.g., reducing the number of pharmacokinetic studies conducted on animals and humans. For this to happen, a new and modern legislative framework for drug approval is required.
- in vitro AUC
- unstirred water layer