Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Novartis And MIT Study Drug Production

Maybe we can all get some new work in bulk API production...

Ten-year agreement targets continuous pharmaceutical manufacturing

Novartis and MIT have launched a partnership aimed at transforming pharmaceutical manufacturing. Novartis hopes the pact will allow it to convert its drug production infrastructure from multisite batch operations to continuous ones that consolidate chemical synthesis, formulation, and packaging in one location.

The drug company is investing $65 million in research at MIT over the 10-year period of the partnership. The project will involve seven to 10 MIT faculty members, as well as students, postdoctoral fellows, MIT staff scientists, and Novartis engineers and scientists. Research will be conducted primarily through MIT Ph.D. programs and then transferred to Novartis for further development to industrial-scale projects.

Novartis aims to convert batch manufacturing operations, such as this one in Switzerland, to continuous ones."This partnership demonstrates our commitment to lead not only in discovering innovative treatments for patients, but also in improving manufacturing processes, which are critical to ensuring a high-quality, efficient, and reliable supply of medicines to patients," says Novartis CEO Daniel Vasella.

Thomas Van Larr, head of global technology operations for Novartis, says the drug industry's heritage in batch manufacturing stems in part from the relatively small volumes of high-value active ingredients needed to make drugs. However, many products, such as Novartis' blood pressure medication Diovan, are produced at a volume that could support continuous chemical production, according to Van Larr.

"To truly go continuous is going to involve a massive effort employing new technology," he says. The 10-year project, he adds, is designed to develop technologies that will be implemented over a longer time frame, up to 20 years.

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