The Cost of 'Right First Time' Purification

With the cost of designing, producing, and delivering a drug to market ever increasing, it essential for businesses to reduce costs by any means necessary. Sadly, it appears some only see the easy option of making 100s of talented scientists redundant. Our industry is downsizing. But it is these experts who are likely to drive invention forwards. If people knew the true costs of the individual aspects of the business, instead of just looking for obvious, short-term solutions to please the financial markets, large savings can be made.

For the rest of this article we will look at the true cost of purification and how simple adaptations, procedures and a streamlined approach can achieve notable savings. It was often said within a large pharmaceutical company I worked in, that the cost incurred to get a bespoke singleton (non-combinatorial) sample into the compound bank could be close to 10k. That is too large an investment in both time and financial terms to not consider when looking at the final purification.

However hard a chemist tries there are always going to be samples that do not successfully appear out of the end of their purification process. In our experience this is 1 - 3% of the samples. Using the values from above this equates to an *unseen* loss of 300k - 900k. Is this an acceptable loss? How many scientists could that keep in a job?

How can a dedicated purification service help minimise these unseen losses? Having personnel running the service whose only job is to purify samples helps. Strangely, it is still quite common in some scientific environments to have highly skilled (and therefore remunerated) chemists performing very challenging chemistry exceptionally well only for them 'lose' the compound during purification due to it not being a specialist area of expertise. You wouldn't ask an analyst to design and complete a synthesis so why have a chemist do the chromatography?

Another aspect to consider is the final recovery of sample and hardware reliability. Filtering, manual handling, transfers etc. all create losses but well maintained hardware along with expertly derived, optimised procedures should result in a return of 95% of the product present. This value can only be dreamed of when HPLC equipment is operated in a communal environment and managed by, at best, a 'superuser'.

A dedicated purification service can minimise unacceptable recoveries and avoidable failures and as a result reduce these unseen costs.

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