This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 956146.

Henriette Hummler

The development of patient-centric drug products is essential for successful pharmacotherapy. Drug products fitting to patients’ needs are of major importance for the steadily increasing proportion of older adults in our population, often being subject to polypharmacy due to multimorbidity. As a pharmacist by training, I was honored to work on innovative formulations for this important patient group as part of the international training network AGePOP.

ESR 1: The swallowability and esophageal transit of oral formulations in older populations

Host institution: F. Hoffmann- La Roche AG, Switzerland
Supervisors: C. Stillhart (Roche), S. Page (Roche), W. Weitschies (UG; secondment)

Research project in AGePOP

With a focus on developing patient-centric oral drug products, the aim of this research project was to determine the preferred type and size of solid oral dosage forms in geriatric patients and older adults. Henriette Hummler assessed the swallowability and esophageal transit of solid oral dosage forms in the advanced age population. The results of the studies, combined with in vitro tools simulating esophageal transit, will enable the design of solid oral dosage forms with improved swallowability.

Key results

Patient-centric drug product development holds great potential to reduce the complexity of drug management in the advanced age population and to increase patient adherence. Even if swallowing capabilities were better than expected by adult participants within the intervention study, relatively low size limits need to be respected in order to allow for good swallowability, especially in older adults. Good swallowability is essential for patients’ willingness for daily medication intake, especially regarding long term treatments. According to visual perception, capsules were rated worse compared to tablets of the same weight. However, mini tablets as alternative dosage forms to monolithic tablets of higher weight were evaluated positively. Within the studied population, handling did not seem to be the decisive aspect in respect to acceptable sizes and shapes of tablets. However, this might change when shifting the focus on patient populations experiencing greater impairments in dexterity.

Besides size and shape of solid oral dosage forms, the influence of surface characteristics on swallowability and especially the esophageal transit was evaluated. The observed differences between surface materials of solid oral dosage forms are of great importance in respect to safe intake of solid oral dosage forms.

The gained knowledge is a step towards the facilitation of patient-centric drug product development for the advanced age population. Thus, it is a step towards increased quality of life of the steadily growing group of older adults.

Scientific background

Henriette Hummler studied pharmacy at the University of Freiburg, Germany, from 2014 to 2019, including one year abroad at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. As Pharmacist Trainee she performed research on thermosensitive liposomes as drug delivery systems for Doxorubicin at the University of Toronto, Canada. Her work was done in cooperation with the University of Freiburg, Germany, where she obtained the degree of Diplom Pharmacist in June 2020. In December 2020, Henriette Hummler became a Licensed Pharmacist. She performed her doctoral studies at F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd in Basel, Switzerland in cooperation with the University of Greifswald, Germany from May 2021 to April 2024. The title of her PhD thesis is: Patient-centric Drug Product Development for Older Adults: Influence of Solid Oral Dosage Form Characteristics on Patient Acceptability.

About Henriette Hummler

Henriette Hummler was born and grew up in Southern Germany. Pharmacies and the drug products being sold there have always caught her attention. During her studies, she enjoyed the synergy of the different pharmaceutical disciplines. Pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology were her main interests. Her scientific work performed as Pharmacist Trainee reinforced her decision to pursue a PhD. Having had the opportunity to conduct her doctoral studies on patient-centric drug product development resonates deeply with her dedication to achieve positive impact on patients’ lives. She is keen to keep the patients themselves at the heart of her work.


  • Hummler, H., Stillhart, C., Meilicke, L., Grimm, M., Krause, E., Mannaa, M., Gollasch, M., Weitschies, W., and Page, S. Impact of Tablet Size and Shape on the Swallowability in Older Adults. Pharmaceutics,  15:1042 (2023).
  • Hummler, H., Page, S., Stillhart, C., Meilicke, L., Grimm, M., Mannaa, M., Gollasch, M., and Weitschies, W. Influence of Solid Oral Dosage Form Characteristics on Swallowability, Visual Perception, and Handling in Older Adults. Pharmaceutics, 15:1315 (2023).
  • Hummler, H., Sarwinska, D., Weitschies, W., Gollasch, M., and Page, S. Parameters to consider for successful medication use in older adults – An AGePOP review. Eur. J. Pharm. Sci., 187: 106453 (2023).