In the constant pursuit of new pharmaceutical drugs, process chemists (sometimes referred to as medicinal or synthetic chemists) must investigate all impurities detected in a new drug manufacturing process. The chemist’s procedure is simple: identify, elucidate and synthesize each and every single impurity.
The chromatogram (UV detector set at 254 nm) below shows three peaks. The large peak at 5.51 min. is the active pharmaceutical ingredient (API). The two small peaks on either side of the API are impurities from the manufacturing process. Depending on the dose and potency of the drug substance, typical regulatory requirements for impurities mandate that any peak with a threshold greater than 0.1% be identified, elucidated and synthesized.