Designing future medicines – the work of the chemical engineer (Day 192)

Pills packI, like the rest of the world, have been saddened by the devastation caused by the most recent Ebola outbreak in Africa and its wide-reaching consequences.

Unfortunately, there have been many ‘finger-waving’ stories questioning how it can have taken so long for the major pharmaceutical companies to produce a viable treatment or vaccine for the disease.

Sadly, ‘finger-waving’ isn’t the answer when the solutions are complicated and highly regulated.

Sometimes, the media report on the latest breakthroughs. For example, Time recently reported ‘Scientists Develop Drug to Replace Antibiotics’.

This implies that these drugs are available and ready to go, however this distracts us from the fact the article also states ‘researchers hope to create a pill or an injectable version of it in the next five years’.

Anyone who has worked in research will understand how long it actually takes to move these breakthroughs to the next stage and to truly develop them.

IChemE technical vice-president, Jon-Paul Sherlock, has worked in the pharmaceuticals industry for over 15 years and has offered me a brief insight into what the industry is really like for chemical engineers.

Continue reading Designing future medicines – the work of the chemical engineer (Day 192)