Wednesday, May 10, 2023

The scale-up of Paxlovid

Also in this week's Chemical and Engineering News, a really interesting article by Beth Halford: 

On July 22, 2020, medicinal chemists at the drugmaker Pfizer made a molecule that they called PF-07321332, 1 of about 20 compounds they prepared that day. The scientists were searching for a way to shut down SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19—a disease that was responsible for more than 25,000 deaths in the US alone that same month.

The researchers didn’t know it at the time, but their discovery of PF-07321332 started a clock ticking. Over the next few months, scientists at the company discovered that PF-07321332 was a powerful inhibitor of SARS-CoV-2’s main protease (also known as the 3CL protease) and had the right mix of properties to be taken as a pill. They eventually renamed the molecule nirmatrelvir, and the race was on to make enough of it to treat millions of people with COVID-19.

Just 17 months after nirmatrelvir’s discovery, the compound was heading to patients. In December 2021, the US Food and Drug Administration gave an emergency use authorization for the antiviral Paxlovid to treat COVID-19.

Don't miss the discussion of the lithium and sodium salt!

I think it would be really interesting to see the ripple effects of the manufacture of Paxlovid, especially in China. Next article!

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