New production process makes medications affordable even for poorer countries
FluxPharm licenses process for the cost-effective production of active pharmaceutical ingredients
The company FluxPharm has acquired a licence for a chemical process developed at the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces in Potsdam. Using flow chemistry technology, the researchers at the Institute can now produce a variety of standard ingredients with much greater efficiency and more cost-effectively than with conventional methods. FluxPharm now intends to develop the technology and make it commercially available. The development of this process will boost the future production of Efavirenz, an active pharmaceutical ingredient used in the treatment of HIV. This in turn will mean that greater numbers of people in poor countries will have access to medications. The relevant negotiations with drug-producing companies are already at an advanced stage.
Active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) are currently often produced using what is known as the “batch” method. With this method, all the necessary reagents are added to one container where they react with one another. However, this method of producing APIs in a “pot” is time-consuming and requires large quantities of additional chemicals.
In contrast, the flow chemistry process developed at the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces is comparable to an assembly line system. With continuous flow, the reaction takes place while the chemicals move through the pipes or tubing of a specially designed reactor. In this way, the reactions are safer and more efficient and much smaller quantities of reagents are required. The improved chemical reaction processes also mean that a variety of standard ingredients can be produced in modular reactors. Previously, a special production facility had to be built and operated to manufacture each ingredient.
Peter Seeberger, Director at the Max Planck Institute in Potsdam, and Kerry Gilmore, Research Group Leader at the Institute and co-founder of FluxPharm, developed the technology. FluxPharm will develop the licensed technology commercially and use it in cooperation with pharma companies.
Development efforts will initially focus on the manufacture of Efavirenz, a drug used to treat the immune deficiency disorder AIDS. There is a huge need for such medications, particularly in developing efforts. The high cost of production means that there is a lack of medications for people in these countries. Negotiations with partners in South Africa, who would like to use the technology developed by FluxPharm to produce Efavirenz, are almost complete. Negotiations with other partners regarding the global production of other drugs are also currently underway.
The production process developed at the Potsdam-based Institute is not tailored solely to Efavirenz. The manufacture of a variety of other drugs such as lyrica, gabapentin and baclofen – used to treat anxiety disorders, epilepsy and spasticity, respectively – has also been demonstrated. Global sales of these three medications alone total around five billion euro annually. The technology is therefore potentially very promising.
“It is important that active pharmaceutical ingredients benefit people throughout the world. The new method that we have licensed at FluxPharm can reduce the production costs of medications by 25 percent or more and thus marks an important step in this direction,” says Mareike Göritz, Patent and Licence Manager with Max Planck Innovation, the technology transfer organization of the Max Planck Society.