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Theoretical Yield

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An Increase in Demand

An Increase in Demand

Credit: National Institutes of Health
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:NLM_4.jpg
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

The National Library of Medicine is perhaps the world’s largest repository of health-related information, from investigations of new diseases to the latest treatments for known medical problems. Information can be accessed on-line from anywhere in the world using several different databases. If you are in Washington, D.C., you can visit the library in person (a spring visit also brings the added enjoyment of the cherry blossoms in the front of the building).

Why It Matters

  • Your pharmaceutical company develops a new medication for treating type I diabetes mellitus (insulin-dependent diabetes). This new approach avoids the need for insulin injections and is a tablet that only needs to be taken once a day. Your initial laboratory synthesis produced somewhere between 100-125 grams of the material at a time, a supply that was sufficient for the initial animal testing. Now you need to develop a larger-scale production synthesis to make enough for human testing and to be ready to release the material to the market as soon as you receive Food and Drug Administration approval.
  • You start by looking at the stoichiometry of the reaction. Ask the question – how much do you get when you run the reaction as it is written in your research protocol (actual yield)? How much product would you expect to get under ideal conditions (theoretical yield)? Is there another reagent you could use to obtain the same product? If you change the reactions conditions, will that affect the yield?
  • Then you need to go from the lab bench to the production process. A big question will be how much of the drug to make. Your marketing staff gather data that suggests your new product will acquire 75% of the total insulin market within two years (and that’s a lot of product). As you set up your production run, you again need to assess your yield (theoretical and actual). There are ways to affect the amount produced in the factory that are not obvious at the lab bench. The better your yield and the more economical your production costs, the easier it will be to pay all the bills run up during the research and development phase (oh, you also need to pay your salary).
  • Credit: Erich Ferdinand
    Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/erix/142789779/
    License: CC BY-NC 3.0

    While the actual manufacturing of drugs may not be very expensive, the packaging, transportation, distribution, and marketing of the drugs can cost many millions of dollars [Figure2]

     

  • Watch a video about drug research at the link below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DhxD6sVQEYc

Show What You Know

Use the links below to learn more about drug research. Then answer the following questions.

  1. What is a clinical trial?
  2. What is a New Drug Application?
  3. How much could it cost for a company to develop a new drug and bring it to market?
  4. For every 1000 compounds that are initially investigated as new drug possibilities, how many usually make it to market?

Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: National Institutes of Health; Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:NLM_4.jpg; License: CC BY-NC 3.0
  2. [2]^ Credit: Erich Ferdinand; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/erix/142789779/; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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