Thursday, April 7, 2016

What's it like to work at AMPAC Fine Chemicals?

Does anyone know what it is like to work at AMPAC Fine Chemicals in Sacramento? Pay, benefits, etc?

For the last 5 years, they've put out routine positions for entry-level process chemists. My understanding is that they are a pretty solid CMO, with routine FDA inspections, GMP suites and the like.

Anyone have any experience they'd like to share?

P.S. If you'd rather not share in public, send me an e-mail: (confidentiality guaranteed.)

UPDATE: I should note that Glassdoor salaries for AMPAC Fine Chemicals are not exactly fabulous. 


  1. I went there for an interview a few years back. It seemed as though it was a decent place to work. I am not sure what kind of turnover they might have. The had facilities that (in my limited experience at the time) could be considered very nice, by CMO standards. I am not sure exactly what the pay would have been or the benefits are because I accepted a job elsewhere, but I would imagine them as being decent. It is a pretty interesting sight as it used to be an explosives development site (if I recall correctly). I do remember wild turkeys dotting the landscape. I enjoyed seeing their 200 gal reactor, and their simulated moving bed purification system was mind blowing. I figure myself more of a discovery chemist than a process chemist, but for process chemistry they seem to do it all, including preparation of ultra-potents. I am curious to hear about the salary and benefits as well.

    1. Can anyone comment on the "preparation of ultra-potents"? What does this mean and entail? This is the kind of thing they don't train you for in grad school.

    2. A good start: (also known as "high-potency APIs", perhaps? I think so, dunno if "ultra potent" is even more potent than "high-potency.")

    3. one of the specifics of working with ultra-potent compounds is decontamination. The activity of residues on the reactor vessel have to be obliterated by chemical means - i.e. solution of oxone. There has to be SOP how to deal with spills, and how to handle the dry solids, solutions, and the waste stream. People wearing respirators in critical steps. Even with all the protection, someone has to filter, dry and scoop kilo quantities of a material that is dosed in milligrams per patient.

      The equipment decontamination is such a pain that a very reliable GMP manufacturing partner and CRO in Freiburg includes cost of a new reactor dedicated to a GMP campaign - when I visited them they had a huge room in basement filled with perfectly good reactors paid by the customers, that were dedicated to a specific project and nothing else.

  2. I also went to interview there a few years back (within that 5 year time frame) for an entry-level position. There seemed to be a number of young to mid-level PhD-level scientists, all of whom were very knowledgeable about the craft and extremely friendly. One did comment that he viewed it as a bit of a stepping stone to a better opportunity. The upper management also seemed very capable, although one showed up 5-10min late for our interview slot, which was a bit of a turn-off as I remember sitting at the table in the room by myself waiting. I was extremely impressed when they discussed their work and was shown their labs and pilot plant, and this for me was the selling point for AMPAC. I was offered a position and the salary offer I remember was in the $70k range (I have a PhD and postdoc both from top-tier PIs and institutions), so that was lower than typical pharma salaries. I do not remember the benefits package. Ultimately though, I turned it down because I preferred medchem and thought I could get a better offer elsewhere.

  3. I currently work at AMPAC Fine Chemicals and I love my job. The work is highly varied and interesting. I'm always learning something new. The R&D team is fantastic. There a lot of experienced, highly intelligent people at AMPAC. I also find the job gratifying because I'm helping to make drugs that will be used in clinical trials or be sold to the public.

    When considering the pay, you also have to consider the cost of living in Sacramento/Rancho Cordova vs the Bay Area or San Diego. So yes the pay is a little bit lower than you will get at a big pharma company but the cost of living is much MUCH lower than where most other industry jobs are located.