2 Ways High Pressure is Changing the Pharmaceutical Industry

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Jen Hug
Jul 12, 2013
min read
2 Ways High Pressure is Changing the Pharmaceutical Industry

When we see the words “high pressure” we generally picture ourselves or those around us under distress. Jobs with strict deadlines and high expectations can be emotionally, physically and socially problematic for those that have them.  In addition, a powerful buildup of gases is considered dangerous and could potentially lead to an explosion. Despite the negative connotations associated with them, anyone who pays close enough attention to the weather forecast knows that those words indicate sunny days to come. High pressure forces can also lead to positive results in the pharmaceutical industry by helping to alleviate two major obstacles in the development of new medications.

One difficulty the pharmaceutical industry faces is bioavailability. Bioavailability refers to the amount of medication your body absorbs. When a drug is taken orally, the absorption can be much lower than other routes of administration (e.g. nasal, intravenous and epidural), which is problematic since many medications are delivered this way. Even when you take a vitamin, you do not receive the full dosage that you swallow. In drugs with poor water solubility, this bioavailability decreases because the particles are too big to dissolve into water (and water passes easily through the body). Using high pressure machinery to reduce particle size can increase bioavailability and dissolution. For the pharmaceutical industry this means producing medications that have more effective dosages. 

Another problem the pharmaceutical industry faces is poor cell disruption. As you know, cells are the building blocks of life. Sometimes what is contained within a cell can be valuable, but cell walls can act as a strong defense against the breakdown of that cell.  High pressure forces can create the necessary cell disruption, allowing for the usually unattainable contents to be harvested. While cell disruption can be useful to a number of industries, in pharmacology it can mean creating newer and more effective medications.

I know you’re wondering, “How does this affect me? Why should I care?” The answer is simple: high pressure modified medication can improve your quality of life. Prescription drugs that can more effectively absorb into your body mean spending less time sick and more time active. Subsequently, this leads to happier people and since happier people tend to be healthy people, the use of such medications could indirectly lead to longer periods of uninterrupted good health.                                                                

So, while high pressure may seem daunting in some contexts, for the pharmaceutical industry it means innovation and improvement. Since high pressure machinery is currently in use in research and development laboratories across the globe, it is only a matter of time before the greater effects of this technology is felt.

photo credit: nima; hopographer via photopin cc

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