An Encounter of the Viral Kind

April 28, 2014
At Interphex I met a bug I didn’t like and lots of things pharmaceutical that I did

“Oh boy, here it comes,” I thought, when those first few symptoms started to creep in: tightness in the chest, a tickle in the throat and that first sniffle. Then denial set in. “I can’t be sick now; there’s a meeting to get to, company-paid airfare on the line, a hotel reservation and an over-crammed schedule, just like the airplane I need to get on to in the next eight hours.” Anger came next, accompanied by some choice expletives, but then, ever the professional, I conceded I had no choice, concluding “How bad can it get, anyway, it’s just a cold.”

Well, turns out it got pretty bad. By the time I had arrived and concluded my first day’s business at Interphex, I retreated to my Midtown hotel room, achy, fatigued and accompanied by a persistently annoying cough; oh and let’s not forget the drippy nose. “Hello Mr. Rhinovirus,” I thought, “not thrilled to meet you.” Quickly I got into bed and proceeded to shiver my way through a fitful cycle of chills and sleep. Next morning, I turned to my traveling medicine chest (a fancy plastic bag) to get myself in shape to meet the day. First down my throat was 400 mg of a very generic OTC Ibuprofen from Walgreens to help with the chills and aches. Then I took a 600 mg dose of guaifenesin. I chose branded, extra-strength Mucinex which deploys a nifty two-stage time release system that (at least for me) works absolutely as advertised. Within 20 minutes my symptoms abated, so I slugged down some breakfast and hit the streets, jumping a cab over to the Javits Center and Interphex.

All of which brings me to the point I’m taking a long time to make, and that is, while we can’t quite treat or vaccinate directly against rhinovirus and its 98 cousins right now, there are plenty of inexpensive compounds out there that safely and effectively control the nasty bugger’s worst symptoms, available virtually immediately to any sufferer. Much of this affordable access comes from the leadership of those operating in the Generic and OTC space (see “What Time is It? Time for Generic Pharma to Lead”)

My quality of life that day was made measurably better, thanks to all my friends and colleagues in the pharmaceutical industry — many of whom were exhibiting technologies that now support and continue to improve the quality, safety and effectiveness of all the medicines, therapies and devices of which many take for granted.

As I toured the exhibits and attended my meetings, it struck me that I was having a viral encounter of another kind; that is, I fancied the viral organism of the pharmaceutical industry with its technology genomes and software proteins combining, aligning and reforming to create new ways to positively affect the health of its host.

As I traversed the industry’s production ecosystem at Interphex, I was introduced to a number of innovations promising to deliver efficiency-enhancing, quality-inducing process and operational benefits to drug manufacturing and development.

For example, I am very excited about the proactive quality aspects of Blow-Fill-Seal technology. I saw innovations in Single-Use technologies that support ever higher production capacity and commercial scale biologics operations. Equally impressive were cloud-based informatics platforms and software demonstrating practical data and information management across the pharma manufacturing space aiding, among other things, successful cGMP process and compliance regimes by automating all those mind-numbing, record-keeping tasks formerly accomplished with pen and paper. Digging a little deeper, I met with PAT-based solutions providers offering accurate and user-friendly analytical technologies applicable from the lab to receiving dock to continuous process line as well as component suppliers hard at work delivering higher-order functionality and reliability at increasingly competitive prices.

Innovation at Interphex came in many forms, including an environmentally friendly, disease-stopping device called Infection Fighter, which combines ozone’s pathogen killing power with ultraviolet germicidal irradiation and ultraHEPA air microfiltration to “effectively eradicate” environmental pathogens including the dreaded rhinovirus that I met on the way to Interphex.

About the Author

Steven E. Kuehn | Editor in Chief