|I think it's the bottom one that wants to|
send your job to Bangalore.
Photo credit: AJC1
The Good: There is some small room for knowledgeable, experienced chemists to do some good:
Although the client asked the CRO to follow a synthetic route outlined in the literature, Levy explains, “the contract organization took the liberty of modifying the chemistry to increase the efficiency of the synthesis by minimizing the number of steps and, in the process, ended up reversing where substituents were attached to the structural core.” The CRO made a molecule with exactly the same molecular weight as the desired product and a similar nuclear magnetic resonance spectrum. “That’s the kind of problem that an outsourcing manager without a strong chemistry background will miss,” he warns.The bad: Sometimes, the things they have to be aware of is just a little basic:
Crystal-clear communication is especially critical when someone “is 12 time zones away,” Kimball says. “When you are in the lab next door, you can walk in and talk to people, and you can touch and feel the process and better understand why a reaction doesn’t work, but when that work is being done remotely, it is much more difficult. Many of the assumptions that we make, having been trained in the U.S., may not be valid. The quality of reagents, laboratory conditions, and the care with which reactions are carried out may not be the same.”
Kimball recalls an instance when a straightforward Friedel-Crafts acylation reaction following a literature procedure failed repeatedly as it was being carried out by a CRO partner. “Finally, it was determined that the high humidity in the lab and poor storage conditions of the aluminum chloride reagent were at fault. Once those were corrected, the chemistry worked as planned.”Aaaand the ugly: I'm glad that Kerry Spear (of Sunovion Pharmaceuticals) was willing to be fairly upfront about his thoughts on synthetic chemistry. This is a set of statements that every 1st year graduate student that contemplates a career in synthetic chemistry should think about:
When orchestrating a corporate outsourcing effort, leaders must have a clear understanding of the company’s strategic outsourcing goals and how the drivers—quality, speed, and cost—impact those goals, Spear says. They also need “to recognize what chemistry is best to keep in-house and what could be outsourced,” he adds. For example, “all the things a classical medicinal chemist does we consider core, at least for now, which means we keep them in-house,” he says. “However, we consider synthetic chemistry to be very outsourceable. Frankly, we don’t do any of it in-house anymore.”I don't really know what do say about that; I mean, sure, I don't make my own TBSCl -- I outsource it to Aldrich (Oakwood, actually, if I have anything to say about it.) But I'd be really interested to hear what Dr. Spear considers 'core' and 'not core'. I'll tell you what -- the 'core' part was probably gotten smaller over the past ten years, as opposed to getting bigger.