Styria as a platform for international cooperation in the pharmaceutical sector

The Styrian competence center RCPE is the lead manager throughout Europe in a large-scale pharmaceutical sector project. In cooperation with seven internationally operating companies and four European universities RCPE is working on the continuous production of solid dosage forms.

In the preparation of tablets different, separated process steps are necessary. This type of production is time consuming and costly, since each process step must be monitored, controlled and finished, each by itself. After the ingredients being mixed in a drum, for example, the mass is transported to the next machine to press tablets. Then the tablets are refilled into another machine for coating (coating as protection from premature dissolution or as a flavor carrier).

In cooperation with partners from science and industry RCPE is now working on combining these process steps. The production of raw material to the final product is to be made possible in a single continuous step.

The integration of the individual steps in a single process poses certain challenges. „It is a challenge, at any given time, to know where the powder is located in the process without being able to look into the machine“ said John Khinast, Scientific Director at the RCPE. „The first attempts are very promising and we are making good progress in the project. After one and a half years duration of the project, we can draw a positive balance.“

In the project RCPE cooperates with seven corporate partners (Bayer, Maag Automatik, Siemens, UCB, GEA, EVK and AstraZeneca) and four universities (TU Graz, University of Ghent, University of Eastern Finland and the Heinrich Heine University of Dusseldorf) on three research fields with different goals. The topics range from the presentation of the necessary conditions for the use of continuous production, and the technical conversion and adaptation of equipment, up to the development of a new drug which is to be produced by a continuous process.

In addition to the research work in three groups, the project includes the organization of workshops in which the project partners share their expertise. The project should be completed by the end of 2017 and the partners already work on further topics for ECCPM 2.0.

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Information about the company

Together with the global players in the pharmaceutical industry, the K1 Competence Center Re-search Center Pharmaceutical Engineering (RCPE) performs cutting-edge research in the field of process and product optimization. The main focus is on the development of new drug delivery systems and the associated production processes and their monitoring. In addition to an experienced multidisciplinary and international team the outstanding achievements of the center due to its proximity to the universities of Graz. Thus, being a link between science and industry, RCPE offers state-of-the-art business-oriented research. RCPE is owned by Graz University of Technology (65%), the University of Graz (20%) and the Joanneum Research GmbH (15%).

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