It is very easy to take for granted the things we use daily, especially in the (over?) developed world where we think nothing of supermarket shelves being (over?) stocked with exotic fruit, bread mountains and rivers of wine from around the globe. But in every instance, there is a company, a process and a horde of employees behind the seemingly simple task of making something "available" and maintaining that all important supply chain. And so it is with the pharma industry.
On a recent trip to a sterile manufacturing facility in Glasgow, I was once again learning something new. I had not previously considered the processes and scale of the equipment necessary to produce even the simplest of solutions (buffers!) required in the volume and, more importantly, the quality required by the biopharmaceutical industry. The water-for-injection plant was an amazing feat of engineering in itself and the house-size mixing tanks put figures like 10000 litres into real perspective.More often than not, the simplicity of the material belies its manufacturing process and it becomes a commodity. Perhaps to such a point, that we stop questioning its origin at all. I think we all agree that quality and patient safety must be at the top of everyone's agenda, but in the face of increasingly fierce competition and a never ending quest by customers for lower costs, perhaps something, somewhere has got to give?
On a completely different topic, several people have asked me if the crossword on the front cover of our September issue "works" — it does indeed. And so as not to take for granted the sense of reader anticipation in the air, the answers are included below.
I very much look forward to meeting some of you at CPhI 2011 this month; feel free to stop by at booth number 51F53 to meet the PTE team.
Down 2. Synthesis 3. Crystallise 4. Precipitation 5. Microdose 7. Cytotoxic 8. Blockbuster 9. Cytostatic 11. MAB 12. HPAPI