News

Bernhardt Trout - Continuous drug manufacturing offers speed, lower costs

New system developed by MIT researchers could help transform the pharmaceutical industry.

Anne Trafton, MIT News Office
March 12, 2012

As the United States seeks to reinvigorate its job market and move past economic recession, MIT News examines manufacturing’s role in the country's economic future through this series on work at the Institute around manufacturing.

Traditional drug manufacturing is a time-consuming process. Active pharmaceutical ingredients are synthesized in a chemical manufacturing plant and then shipped to another site, where they are converted into giant batches of pills. Including transport time between manufacturing plants, each batch can take weeks or months to produce.

Five years ago, MIT and pharmaceutical company Novartis launched a research effort to transform those procedures. Instead of manufacturing drugs using this conventional batch-based system, they envision a continuous manufacturing process, all done in one location, which would cut down on time and cost.