The future of PAT
PharmTech: Looking ahead five years, how do you see PAT evolving in the pharmaceutical industry?
Freeman (Freeman Technology):
While the use of PAT for information gathering and process monitoring, particularly in development, has grown substantially
during the past five years, there is still some way to go in terms of optimizing its application across the whole manufacturing
cycle and its utilization as a mechanism for process control. In the next five years, I expect PAT to penetrate further into
commercial manufacture as confidence in its use and capabilities expand.
The automation of process control is an ongoing trend and will continue to motivate suppliers to bring new technologies on
line. On the other hand, experience from other sectors would suggest that the sophisticated application of the most relevant
at-line techniques is an extremely complementary and productive approach. It, therefore, seems likely that the focus should
and will remain on technologies that truly deliver in terms of relevant information whether at-, on- or in-line. Parameters,
such as particle morphology, and powder flowability, compressibility, shear strength, and surface area are all likely to remain
pertinent for powder processes.
Heil (Thermo Fisher Scientific):
In the pharmaceutical industry, PAT is well adopted among the largest pharmaceutical companies, especially in the more developed
countries. In the next five years, I see the evolution of PAT into smaller pharmaceutical companies, contract manufacturing
organizations, dietary supplement manufacturers, and companies in the less-developed world. Companies in these regions and
industries have seen the progress that the larger pharmaceutical companies have made and see the value of PAT tools, such
as NIR spectroscopy, for monitoring and controlling their processes to improve quality and lower production costs.
Advances in data analysis and data management are critical to the future success of PAT. Managing the sheer volume of real-time,
multivariate data generated from a production process so it can be used for real-time process adjustments or off-line production
analysis is a challenge. During the last 10 years, significant knowledge has been gained on how to properly implement process
instrumentation for on-line analysis.
For many companies, the starting point for implementing PAT tools was moving familiar laboratory spectroscopy techniques
from laboratory to line. The value of PAT is built around real-time analysis of critical quality and performance attributes
to improve process quality. For a pharmaceutical process, this means combining data from multiple sources to get a complete
picture of the overall quality of raw, in-process, and final products. This approach requires advanced data-management systems
capable of receiving information of various formats from multiple analyzers and production automation systems. Take for example,
the data management required when applying PAT to the pharmaceutical hot-melt extrusion process. Real-time data of multiple
formats and sources from a NIR analyzer, barrel temperature probe, pressure sensor, extruder-screw speed, and ingredient feed
rates would need to be archived in a common location for real-time, multivariate data analysis as well as off-line post processing
With future advances in data-analysis and data-management software, companies will be able to focus their PAT efforts on optimizing
their sampling at point of analysis, chemometric models, and multivariate analysis tools, thereby allowing them to apply PAT
to more challenging production processes.
Real-time chromatographic analysis will increasingly enhance manufacturing processes—development, transfer, monitoring,
and control. Integrating these enhancements within a unified information access model capable of very high-speed analytics
will yield improved decision management, predictive analytics, and comprehensive analysis—without the paper. This integration
can be achieved by deploying real-time analytics while eliminating the time delays, analytic, and process variability associated
with traditional off-line analysis.
Aumiller (GE Analytical Instruments):
In the next five years, the adoption of PAT will likely be very evolutionary in nature. Existing processes will be incrementally
changed to provide for better efficiency. It is unlikely that a disruptive technology will be readily adopted that totally
replaces an existing process.
Within the context of cleaning systems, we will likely see the development of better tools and analytics that allow for more
optimal control of the processes. As indicated earlier, many cleaning processes currently employ the use of conductivity and
TOC measurements as a check of equipment cleanliness. This testing is most often performed in the laboratory but also can
be performed at-line to speed the time to result. With the use of robust and fast-responding on-line instrumentation, CIP
cycles could be designed to run until contaminants drop below a predefined threshold rather than running for fixed periods
of time. With the immediate feedback afforded by integrated conductivity and TOC monitors, processes could become quicker
and require lower utility costs to achieve the same or better quality. This transition will require the use of instrumentation
that can reliably detect the contaminants of interest within the complex matrix of a cleaning process.
To consider the potential advancements in analytical instrumentation, I would look at other significant advances in pharmaceutical
development and not just at PAT advances. Nanotechnology drug delivery is the biggest advancement in the past five years and
will be the biggest advancement in the future five years. Currently proven scaled-up developed manufacturing practices and
processes do not exist to consistently produce, on a large scale, nanopharmaceuticals. In the development laboratory, single
particle-inductively coupled plasma–mass spectrometry (SP–ICP–MS) of nanomaterials is the most significant improvement. This is not in-line, on-line, or at-line
testing, but is a significant advance in analytical testing.
1. FDA, Pharmaceutical cGMPs for the 21st Century—Risk-Based Approach: Final Report (Rockville, MD, 2004).
2. FDA, Guidance for Industry: PAT—A Framework for Innovative Pharmaceutical Development, Manufacturing and Quality Assurance (Rockville, MD, 2004).
3. FDA, Progress Report on Process Analytical Technology,
http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DevelopmentApprovalProcess/Manufacturing/QuestionsandAnswersonCurrentGoodManufacturingPracticescGMPforDrugs/ucm072006.htm, accessed June 18, 2012.