Flow chemistry as an enabling technology for essential medicine


Matthew M. Bio
President and CEO, Snapdragon Chemistry, Inc., Cambridge, USA


Continuous manufacturing technology enables the design of highly automated, small footprint, chemical manufacturing plants for relatively low cost.  This further allows for the design of distributed, point-of-use manufacturing. The implications of continuous manufacturing technology and the new supply-chain logistics made possible are discussed with regard to ensuring the supply of essential medicines worldwide.

Continuous manufacturing technology, synonymous with flow chemistry for the purposes of this article, has long been recognized as an efficient means for chemical production as evidenced by its widespread use in the manufacture of price-sensitive, commodity chemicals.  More recently, continuous manufacturing is being increasingly applied to the manufacture of complex synthetic molecules such as pharmaceuticals. The adoption of continuous manufacturing for pharmaceuticals is being enabled by advances in synthetic technology and automation.  Innovator pharmaceutical companies are leveraging continuous manufacturing to enable efficient synthetic routes, that improve product quality and increase supply chain flexibility.

Continuous manufacturing is also a critical technology for achieving sustainable manufacturing practices.  Continuous processes are often more atom economical, energy efficient and inherently safer than corresponding batch processes (1). Additionally, capital costs associated with continuous manufacturing plants are significantly lower than batch plants, thus reducing the cost of pharmaceutical manufacture (2). The massive improvements in space-time ...