Purely in silico BCS classification: Science based quality standards for the world's drugs

Arik Dahan, Omri Wolk, Young Hoon Kim, Chandrasekharan Ramachandran, Gordon M. Crippen, Toshihide Takagi, Marival Bermejo, Gordon L. Amidon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BCS classification is a vital tool in the development of both generic and innovative drug products. The purpose of this work was to provisionally classify the world's top selling oral drugs according to the BCS, using in silico methods. Three different in silico methods were examined: the well-established group contribution (CLogP) and atom contribution (ALogP) methods, and a new method based solely on the molecular formula and element contribution (KLogP). Metoprolol was used as the benchmark for the low/high permeability class boundary. Solubility was estimated in silico using a thermodynamic equation that relies on the partition coefficient and melting point. The validity of each method was affirmed by comparison to reference data and literature. We then used each method to provisionally classify the orally administered, IR drug products found in the WHO Model list of Essential Medicines, and the top-selling oral drug products in the United States (US), Great Britain (GB), Spain (ES), Israel (IL), Japan (JP), and South Korea (KR). A combined list of 363 drugs was compiled from the various lists, and 257 drugs were classified using the different in silico permeability methods and literature solubility data, as well as BDDCS classification. Lastly, we calculated the solubility values for 185 drugs from the combined set using in silico approach. Permeability classification with the different in silico methods was correct for 69-72.4% of the 29 reference drugs with known human jejunal permeability, and for 84.6-92.9% of the 14 FDA reference drugs in the set. The correlations (r2) between experimental log P values of 154 drugs and their CLogP, ALogP and KLogP were 0.97, 0.82 and 0.71, respectively. The different in silico permeability methods produced comparable results: 30-34% of the US, GB, ES and IL top selling drugs were class 1, 27-36.4% were class 2, 22-25.5% were class 3, and 5.46-14% were class 4 drugs, while ∼8% could not be classified. The WHO list included significantly less class 1 and more class 3 drugs in comparison to the countries' lists, probably due to differences in commonly used drugs in developing vs industrial countries. BDDCS classified more drugs as class 1 compared to in silico BCS, likely due to the more lax benchmark for metabolism (70%), in comparison to the strict permeability benchmark (metoprolol). For 185 out of the 363 drugs, in silico solubility values were calculated, and successfully matched the literature solubility data. In conclusion, relatively simple in silico methods can be used to estimate both permeability and solubility. While CLogP produced the best correlation to experimental values, even KLogP, the most simplified in silico method that is based on molecular formula with no knowledge of molecular structure, produced comparable BCS classification to the sophisticated methods. This KLogP, when combined with a mean melting point and estimated dose, can be used to provisionally classify potential drugs from just molecular formula, even before synthesis. 49-59% of the world's top-selling drugs are highly soluble (class 1 and class 3), and are therefore candidates for waivers of in vivo bioequivalence studies. For these drugs, the replacement of expensive human studies with affordable in vitro dissolution tests would ensure their bioequivalence, and encourage the development and availability of generic drug products in both industrial and developing countries.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)4378-4390
Number of pages13
JournalMolecular Pharmaceutics
Issue number11
StatePublished - 4 Nov 2013


  • BCS
  • NME
  • in silico
  • partition coefficient
  • permeability
  • solubility

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Drug Discovery
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmaceutical Science


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