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Biopharmaceuticals: what pharmacists need to know

A few biopharmaceuticals — medicines such as epoetin alfa and somatostatin — have been around for a while. But as technology progresses, numbers will increase. Similarly, as patents expire, biosimilars are set to become more widely available.

By Roger Tredree

Roger Tredree explains the special features of these medicines and the role pharmacists can play

At the beginning of the 20th century the medicines market was dominated by preparations derived from natural sources of plant, animal or mineral origin. Later these were replaced by synthetic molecules discovered in the laboratory and produced in large scale chemical plants.

These drugs had an advantage over the natural products because they were consistent in their molecular structure and could be easily purified and characterised. And, by varying the molecules in a homologous series, they could be made more potent and side effects could be reduced.

However, by the end of the century, the number of new chemical entities reaching the market began to decrease. At the same time recombinant DNA technology became available as a manufacturing tool and the age of biopharmaceuticals ushered in the 21st century.

To read the full article download the attached PDF (350K)

Roger Tredree, BPharm, MRPharmS, is visiting professor at Kingston University in London. He has held a number of senior posts in the UK National Health Service and retired in 2007 from the post of chief pharmacist at St George’s Hospital, London.

Citation: Electronicjuice URI: 11012324

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