Equipment and analytical companies meeting continuous challenges. May 20-21, 2014 Continuous Manufacturing Symposium

J Pharm Sci. 2015 Mar;104(3):821-31. doi: 10.1002/jps.24282. Epub 2014 Dec 1.


This white paper focuses on equipment, and analytical manufacturers' perspectives, regarding the challenges of continuous pharmaceutical manufacturing across five prompt questions. In addition to valued input from several vendors, commentary was provided from experienced pharmaceutical representatives, who have installed various continuous platforms. Additionally, a small medium enterprise (SME) perspective was obtained through interviews. A range of technical challenges is outlined, including: the presence of particles, equipment scalability, fouling (and cleaning), technology derisking, specific analytical challenges, and the general requirement of improved technical training. Equipment and analytical companies can make a significant contribution to help the introduction of continuous technology. A key point is that many of these challenges exist in batch processing and are not specific to continuous processing. Backward compatibility of software is not a continuous issue per se. In many cases, there is available learning from other industries. Business models and opportunities through outsourced development partners are also highlighted. Agile smaller companies and academic groups have a key role to play in developing skills, working collaboratively in partnerships, and focusing on solving relevant industry challenges. The precompetitive space differs for vendor companies compared with large pharmaceuticals. Currently, there is no strong consensus around a dominant continuous design, partly because of business dynamics and commercial interests. A more structured common approach to process design and hardware and software standardization would be beneficial, with initial practical steps in modeling. Conclusions include a digestible systems approach, accessible and published business cases, and increased user, academic, and supplier collaboration. This mirrors US FDA direction. The concept of silos in pharmaceutical companies is a common theme throughout the white papers. In the equipment domain, this is equally prevalent among a broad range of companies, mainly focusing on discrete areas. As an example, the flow chemistry and secondary drug product communities are almost entirely disconnected. Control and Process Analytical Technologies (PAT) companies are active in both domains. The equipment actors are a very diverse group with a few major Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) players and a variety of SME, project providers, integrators, upstream downstream providers, and specialist PAT. In some cases, partnerships or alliances are formed to increase critical mass. This white paper has focused on small molecules; equipment associated with biopharmaceuticals is covered in a separate white paper. More specifics on equipment detail are provided in final dosage form and drug substance white papers. The equipment and analytical development from laboratory to pilot to production is important, with a variety of sensors and complexity reducing with scale. The importance of robust processing rather than overcomplex control strategy mitigation is important. A search of nonacademic literature highlights, with a few notable exceptions, a relative paucity of material. Much focuses on the economics and benefits of continuous, rather than specifics of equipment issues. The disruptive nature of continuous manufacturing represents either an opportunity or a threat for many companies, so the incentive to change equipment varies. Also, for many companies, the pharmaceutical sector is not actually the dominant sector in terms of sales.

Keywords: Processing; analytical chemistry; crystal engineering; mathematical models; unit operations.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biological Products / chemistry*
  • Biological Products / economics
  • Biological Products / standards
  • Consumer Product Safety
  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Drug Contamination / prevention & control
  • Drug Costs
  • Drug Industry / economics
  • Drug Industry / instrumentation*
  • Drug Industry / methods
  • Drug Industry / standards
  • Drug Industry / trends
  • Equipment Contamination / prevention & control
  • Equipment Design
  • Humans
  • Interdisciplinary Communication
  • Patient Safety
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / chemistry*
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / economics
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / standards
  • Public-Private Sector Partnerships
  • Quality Control
  • Technology, Pharmaceutical / economics
  • Technology, Pharmaceutical / instrumentation*
  • Technology, Pharmaceutical / methods
  • Technology, Pharmaceutical / standards
  • Technology, Pharmaceutical / trends
  • Workflow


  • Biological Products
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations