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Merck Millipore to open new bioavailability lab in 2013

By Gareth Macdonald , 27-Nov-2012

The bioavailability market lacks a leader that can offer comprehensive solutions according to Merck Millipore, which has set its sights on filling the gap through investments and a new lab.

The firm – formed in 2010 when Germany’s Merck KGaA bought Millipore – has been touting its bioavailability credentials at various trade shows this autumn, explaining that drug industry demand for solubility solutions is on the increase.

Roger Weibel, Head of Bioavailability Enhancement at the firm, told in-Pharmatechnologist.com that: “Solubility is a major problem facing the industry. APIs have become hundreds of times less soluble over the past 20 years.

He gave micronization as an example, explaining that while the approach has some merit in terms of bioavailability, it is not always effective. This he said makes salt screening more important and – in turn – increases demand for products like Merck’s couterion Meglumine, which is used to make active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) into more soluble salt forms.

Weibel also said that: “Although there are many technologies available on the market today, there are still many challenges regarding bioavailability and formulation of today's APIs. New NCEs and NBEs always present new challenges.

Today, single technology providers are the only players helping customers address bioavailability enhancement issues. There is a clear market need for a provider of comprehensive products and technologies to support bioavailability enhancement. Merck Millipore aims to meet this need.”

Part of this effort will involve investment according to Weibel, who cited a new application lab in Darmstadt, Germany the firm will open in early 2013 as an example.

Merck Millipore is and will continue to make considerable investments in innovative technologies and products to overcome these [bioavailability] hurdles,” he said, adding that the firm’s R&D department is also working on inorganic drug carrier solutions that will be available by the end of the year.

Biologics

Merck’s bioavailability ambitions are not limited to small molecule drugs according to Weibel, who said that both Big and small pharma companies are becoming more and more interested in developing pill forms of their biologic products.

Many pharmaceutical companies and academia are currently working on bioavailability enhancement solutions for biologics and we are collaborating with them. We expect this to continue in the coming years.

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