Making Pharmaceuticals


I spent the last day of April at a new show called Making Pharmaceuticals. I was there to speak about my pet topic of the use of experimental design in topical pharmaceutical development. (Everyone needs an interest.) It was an interesting show. There are lots of events nowadays that cater to all sorts of things. This particular one was aimed at people whose business is, as the name suggests, making pharmaceuticals.

I think the big thing about going to a show is to find out things that not only you don’t know, but that you didn’t know that you didn’t know. If you want to find out things that you know you don’t know there’s no need to get into your car and drive somewhere. You can stay in bed in fact, just turn on your laptop and fire up Google.

So what did I learn that I didn’t know I that I didn’t know?

Well for a start I didn’t realise that Botox has medical applications. I also didn’t realise that the British Government developed an alternative form of Botox at its facility at Porton Down. This location is better known for its work on biological warfare, so that was quite intriguing. It also turns out that they have licensed out the technology to a private company who sell it around the world. The income from this goes into funding public health projects. I find this all rather satisfying. Investing in public health is probably the classic case of something that you know is good but that which is hard to put your finger on just how valuable it is.

The pharmaceutical industry is a very large and diverse one. There are quite a lot of activities that are necessary to getting the shelves of your local chemist shop stocked up with safe and hopefully effective products. It is quite surprising just how specialised some of the companies that work in this world are. There were companies who make a living monitoring just how clean the air in clean rooms actually are for example. This extreme division of labour was reflected in some of the talks given. If you thought my topic was narrowly focused, how about a lecture specifically addressing the issue of sticking in tablet press tooling? You might not care about it, but plenty of people do.

I left Birmingham feeling I knew rather more about the process of making pharmaceuticals than I did before, so I think it was a day well spent.

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