Pharma technology has accelerated the access to advanced medicines and drug delivery devices. The newer drugs ensuing from the use of technology include formulations that provide targeted delivery and also those that have reduced dosing frequency.
According to Sunil Chiplunkar, vice president, business development, Group Pharma, it is pharmaceutical technology that has enabled development of products based on science. “Therefore practical application of science in pharmacy is pharmaceutical technology.”
The traditional technological approaches allow the pharma industry to develop the routine, reliable formulations including generics and branded medicines. However the trending technologies are personalized medicine and artificial intelligence (AI). The latter is the targeted therapy used for cancer care. The former is used in drug design, said Chiplunkar at a recently concluded webinar on Impact of pharma technology on healthcare organised by the RR College of Pharmacy and Group Pharmaceuticals.
Further pharmaceutical technology is also extensively used for the development of suitable and affordable active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs), excipients, and intermediates. Technology has also played a major role in the development of new chemical entities.
Current focus is to make indigenous affordable technologies for the APIs and excipients. This will reduce Indian pharma’s dependence on imports mainly from China. There is also a trend of in-licensing technologies to create product differentiation advantage for marketing, he said.
Giving example of chlorine dioxide which is mainly used as a bleach, Chiplunkar said that here too technology has enabled the development of stabilized chlorine dioxide solution. This is a popular disinfectant that is effective even at low concentrations, because of its unique qualities. The stabilized chlorine dioxide is registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as an excellent bactericide, fungicide, and antimicrobial agent, he said.
Moving on to the Madagascar pink periwinkle flowering plant, he said that with the adoption of technology researchers were able to prove and develop cytoblastin 10mg injection which is an anti-cancer medication used in the treatment of breast cancer. Another example is the in the case of pencillin which is a fungus mould that was developed using fermentation technology to become the mostly widely used antibiotic.
The present unpredictable black swan event, coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic too has seen a slew of advancements using pharma technology. These include remdesivir which is an RNA polymerase inhibitor from Gilead Pharma, an antiviral drug: Favipiravir, corticosteroid: Dexamethasone, immunosuppressant : Toclizumab, anti-malarial: Hydroxychloroquine, convalescent plasma therapy (CPT) and vaccines. These developments have been significant, said Chiplunkar adding that hand sanitizers and mouth washes are some of the other examples to control and prevent the deadly virus, stated Chiplunkar.