An interview with Duquesne’s PAT Guru, James Drennan (from IFPAC `07)

Emil Ciurczak spoke with PAT expert James Drennan III, Associate Dean of Duquesne University and Editor of the Journal of Pharmaceutial Innovation at the conference. IFPAC `07 Day 1.

EC “ Lets start with the journal first.  Tell me about that

JD “ I was approached over 18 months ago by ISPE and they were interested in developing a journal and sought my help with chairing a task force of ISPE members to do that.  We kicked that off and spent virtually a year putting together a first issue, which came out in the Fall of 2006.

EC “ And your publisher is¦?

JD - The publisher of the first issue was Elsevier.  Im not sure who the new publisher will be, going forward.  The goal of the journal is to create a forum for publication in an area that is unique right now compared to other journals out there.  Were looking to provide an opportunity for dialogue in an area that is at the intersection between traditional pharmaceutical sciences and pharmaceutical engineering. And so the task team was made up of a lot of engineers from ISPE and some pharmaceutical scientists. Weve put together a plan that will let us go forward with a peer reviewed journal that will allow us to address a lot of critical issues that the industry faces today, working at this interface between engineering and traditional science.

EC “ I believe that Ive already plagiarized several of the papers from your first edition in some of my columns. I was struck with the idea that were not measuring enough of the physical parameters. Were only interested in whether something is clean and whether its the right chemical, and we do some compendial tests and is it heavy metals that are going to help us make a good tablet. Could you tell me some of the precepts of the papers in your first issue?

JD “ We had a variety of papers there, looking at everything from novel software and approaches for product development, to try to speed up pharma product development to new analytical technologies like Teraherz spectroscopy to articles on PAT. 

The first issue had a real cross section of interesting topics.  Well look for significant variety in the future. Id imagine us accepting articles on new technologies like nanoparticles and their value in developing new dosage forms, improving drug delivery, gene therapy, and well look for more papers on some of the critical important topics like PAT. So, well let the readers and the industry direct us in identifying critical topics for the journal, but Id like to keep it focused on the cutting edge of technology.

EC I notice that you have formed a consulting team with a former professor and former Duquesne student.

JD - About a year ago we formed Strategic Process Control Technologies LLC, with Carl Anderson and former student Dr. Robert Cogdill, who has recently completed his studies at Duquesne in pharmaceutical sciences, and who is now on the faculty in the Duquesne. University for pharmaceutical technology, where he is an industrial research coordinator.

We have a partnership focusing on process control, PAT multivariate data analysis, risk assessment and were working to help the industry dvelope and implement PAT efforts and unique methods for optimizeing products and processes, and so we have some interesting business at this point, and are seeking additional business with the industry, taking advantage of our many years of experience with NIR spectroscopy, chemometrics, data analysis and also pharmaceutics and pharma processing.

EC Dr.Anderson came from industry and Bob Cogdill had some experience in Europe, if Im not mistaken, before he came back to complete his Ph.D. JD  Dr Andersons background is as an analytical chemist.  He spent seven years in industry with Aventis. Bob has a background in agricultural engineering and came to Duquesne to complete his Ph.D. in pharma sciences, my background is in pharmacy and pharmaceutical sciences.  Its a good combination that gives us the ability to solve problems well, to provide our clients with some valuable help..


EC Carl was showing me some of your software, and says you have some unique approaches to chemometrics.and statistics


JD Actually, in the last 2.5 years weve been developing what we call efficient calibration methods. This was actually part of Bobs Ph.D. work.  We found, in the last few years, that as we worked to develop and implement PAT methods with industry, spectroscopic calibration can become a real challenge. 

With traditional methods, it can require going back to the laboratory and developing essentially out-of-spec product across a wide range of active concentrations as well as excipient concentrations. 

It becomes very time consuming and expensive for the manufacturer who wants to develop an online method of measurement, so we through Bob's work, have been working on efficient calibration methods which allow us to synthetically create calibration using minimal data. 

We require raw material spectra, typically, and a very minimal designed experiment looking at combinations of components and spectra from these materials.  In weeks we can create calibrations of identical quality to traditional methods that might require hundreds of samples, months of time and effort to create, not to mention, use of valuable active materials and other raw materials that are hard to get in the early development stage.

ES “  And of course, its frowned on by FDA to make out-of-spec product in a GMP facility so that made it hard for pharma companies to make these samples, too.

JD -  The challenge there, Emil, is the fact that no plant manager is going to allow you to go into the manufacturing facility and make OOS material at the plant. That had to be done at the laboratory,. and that caused certain challenges in adding lab samples to the calibration. Not insurmountable challenges, but to be able to do this synthetically and use actual product just to validate the calibration is an advance.

ES  So apparently I have to steal a whole set of new slides from you.  And of course youre still cranking out new students, teaching.

ES  I was impressed talking to Carl earlier.  Thank you for your time.  I think people need to hear about all this.