Small Molecule

Flex, Drugs & Rock ‘n’ Roll

OSD maintains rock star status by seeking out more flexible solutions

By Karen Langhauser, Chief Content Director

I was quite surprised this year when I saw that Tupac was included among the new Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees. Not being a huge connoisseur of hip hop, I’m not qualified to comment on the deceased artist’s talent, nonetheless, I found it interesting that Tupac’s music would fall into the rock ’n’ roll genre.

Like oral solid dose products, rock music has origins that date back centuries. Modern rock has maintained some core aspects of these roots, but also evolved greatly throughout history. It appears that in order for the rock ’n’ roll genre to stay relevant, the very definition of rock has to evolve.

And evolve it has, continually reinventing itself from decade to decade, as it responds to social, economic and cultural changes. The same can be said of the oral solid dosage sector. As the demands for high potency drugs and personalized medicines push the industry toward smaller volume, more efficient production, oral solid dose manufacturers are finding that they need a more modular, flexible process to keep pace with pharma’s future.

Oral solid dose manufacturers, contract manufacturers and equipment vendors are educating themselves and experimenting with new instruments, such as continuous manufacturing, in search of this much-needed flexibility. Additionally, advances in OSD deliverability and bioavailability are enabling the dosage form to grow its presence in non-traditional spaces, such as oncology.

As the world embraces new rock artists with new ways of making music, old rock stars still sell out stadiums (last year, the Desert Trip festival - featuring the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, Neil Young, Roger Waters and the Who - sold out all its 70,000 three-day tickets for each of the festival’s two weekends in under three hours). No matter how much rock ’n’ roll has evolved, people are still wearing Beatles teeshirts and reporting Elvis sightings, much the same way that people are still taking aspirin.

On a more personal note, I enjoy writing this annual oral solid dose cover story because it’s one of the most relaxed, down-to-earth group of experts I’ve encountered in the pharmaceutical industry. I’m reminded of the pictures you sometimes see buried on the Internet when the paparazzi come across a retired rock star, casually strolling through the grocery store. Here’s a person who has seen it all and is extremely knowledgeable about his or her genre, but yet seems quite accessible walking the aisles in sweatpants, debating between Frosted Flakes and Cinnamon Toast Crunch. There’s something to be said for that specific brand of old school cool.

With all areas of pharma firmly invested in oral solid dose products, the dosage form surely isn’t fading away any time soon. Check out April's cover story for a detailed discussion of how the industry’s most stable drug form is innovating to stay relevant.

In the words of Tupac himself: “You either evolve or you disappear.”