Near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) is a valuable tool in the pharmaceutical industry, presenting opportunities for online analyses to achieve real-time assessment of intermediates and finished dosage forms. The purpose of this work was to investigate the effect of experimental designs on prediction performance of quantitative models based on NIRS using a five-component formulation as a model system. The following experimental designs were evaluated: five-level, full factorial (5-L FF); three-level, full factorial (3-L FF); central composite; I-optimal; and D-optimal. The factors for all designs were acetaminophen content and the ratio of microcrystalline cellulose to lactose monohydrate. Other constituents included croscarmellose sodium and magnesium stearate (content remained constant). Partial least squares-based models were generated using data from individual experimental designs that related acetaminophen content to spectral data. The effect of each experimental design was evaluated by determining the statistical significance of the difference in bias and standard error of the prediction for that model's prediction performance. The calibration model derived from the I-optimal design had similar prediction performance as did the model derived from the 5-L FF design, despite containing 16 fewer design points. It also outperformed all other models estimated from designs with similar or fewer numbers of samples. This suggested that experimental-design selection for calibration-model development is critical, and optimum performance can be achieved with efficient experimental designs (i.e., optimal designs).
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