Evolution of Continuous Chromatography: Moving Beyond Chiral Separations - Pharmaceutical Technology

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Evolution of Continuous Chromatography: Moving Beyond Chiral Separations
The author presents recent developments in simulated moving-bed chromatography in production of active pharmaceutical ingredients and intermediates. This article is part of a special issue on APIs.


Pharmaceutical Technology
pp. s22-s27


Figure 4: Separation of impurity(ies) during a chiral resolution by chromatography shown with simulated chromatograms. The red graphs represents an overall chromatogram, and the blue graph denotes the impurity(ies). Figure 4(a) is an impurity eluting with one of the enantiomers. Figure 4(b) is an impurity eluting between the two enantiomers. Figure 4(c) shows impurities eluting much earlier or later than the enantiomer. (FIGURE IS COURTESY OF THE AUTHOR)
Five major cases can be identified, and Figure 4 shows some examples of the removal of an impurity with a chiral separation. The first case is when the impurity elutes with the desired compound (see Figure 4a). The only way to address this case is to change the separation conditions. The second case is when the impurity elutes with the unwanted enantiomer. This is a good case because the impurity will be completely removed (see Figure 4a). If the second enantiomer is to be recycled by racemization, one must ensure that the impurity is addressed in the recycle step to avoid accumulation over time. For the third case, the impurity is eluted between the two enantiomers (see Figure 4b). This case is more difficult but can usually be solved with the existing separation method. The fourth and fifth cases are when the impurity is eluted much later or earlier than the enantiomers (see Figure 4c). Under these conditions, the impurity is usually distributed evenly in both the extract and the raffinate streams. By adjusting certain flow rates, it is possible to control the ratio of the impurity in the outlet streams.

Removal of a suspected toxic impurity . During the past few years, there has been a lot of interest in the identification and removal of genotoxic or carcinogenic impurities to very low levels in APIs. This removal is usually difficult to do by traditional crystallization techniques without losing significant amounts of product in the mother liquor. Chromatography is one technique that can achieve very high purity while maintaining a high recovery of product (i.e., greater than 95%). The removal of a toxic impurity is a binary separation and can be done by SMB. These separations can normally be developed on normal-phase packing materials (i.e., bare silica or silica functionalized with a cyano or amino group, for example). These phases are not as expensive as chiral phases and provide larger loading capacity, thereby resulting in high throughput.

AFC recently developed an SMB process to solve an impurity problem that was originally performed using crystallization to remove an impurity from about 1% to 10 ppm. The purification was performed using crystallization and required two to three crystallizations with an 85% yield for each step, thereby bringing the overall yield to 61–72%. As an example, the processing of 50 metric tons of this intermediate using crystallization would result in only 30.7 metric tons of pure product after three crystallizations. Assuming that each crystallization adds a cost of $30/kg to the product and that the crude feed costs $1000/kg, the crystallization process increased the pure-product cost to $53.3 million or $1736/kg. Despite a relatively cheap crystallization process, the overall cost of the product is drastically increased because a significant amount of product is lost to the mother liquors. Alternatively, if the purification is done by SMB and the estimated cost for the SMB separation is $50/kg, then the associated manufacturing cost for the pure product is only $52.4 million or $1104/kg with a total of 47.5 metric tons of pure product recovered. The lower cost of the SMB process is mostly due to the high recovery of product because it is not lost in the mother liquors as in the crystallization process. In this example, a 95% recovery was estimated; however, at commercial scale, typical yields of > 98% are realized. This difference in cost between the two methods can significantly increase when the price of the material to purify increases.


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