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Commercializing vacuum-microwave drying for pharmaceuticals

By Mary Page Bailey |

Vacuum-microwave drying for pharmaceuticals is much faster than other techniques, such as freeze drying or air drying, but the difficulty in achieving homogenous microwave-energy distribution under vacuum conditions has made it difficult to scale up for commercial manufacturing. “What tends to happen is a concentration of energy, and plasma discharge can readily occur, which can burn the product and damage equipment,” explains Brent Charleton, president and chief executive officer of EnWave Corp. (Vancouver, B.C., Canada; www.enwave.net). EnWave has developed proprietary technology that minimizes the probability of plasma discharge at varying vacuum levels, providing an even, controllable drying process. The technology has already been deployed into the food sector, and EnWave has been working with Merck KGaA (Darmstadt, Germany; www.merck.com) to fine-tune a pilot unit designed for the biopharmaceuticals sector, which Charleton says is the first continuous vacuum-microwave machine that meets Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) regulations. “We can dry many vaccines simultaneously in a continuous fashion. The primary goal is to eliminate the cold-chain storage requirement for that product and still maintain efficacy,” says Charleton.…
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