Glassboro (N.J.) Plain dealer
December 30, 2005


Pharmaceutical development is a costly and waste heavy process;
solvents currently used to net a higher level of purity not only cost
a great deal, but produce an unhealthy amount of waste. Although the
words "cheap" and "eco-friendly" rarely go together, a team of Rowan
University chemical engineers introduced the two with great success.

A team headed by Rowan professors Stewart Slater, Mariano Savelski and
Robert Hesketh, and composed of engineering graduate and undergraduate
students, is working with pharmaceutical developer Bristol-Myers
Squibb to make the process green and the profit black.

The goal of any pharmaceutical company is to increase profitability,
said graduate student Daniel Fichana, who is from Delran. Rowan
students found that by switching to other solvents, namely water,
ethanol and acetone, a greater level of purity can be reached while
reducing the length of the process.

Working alongside Bristol-Myers Squibb, Rowan engineers have analyzed
the data produced from the development of a cancer-fighting drug, in
order to find greener replacements for the current process. The use of
single step solvents combined with using recycled materials not only
reduced waste, but increased productivity by reducing the use of
expensive materials.

"We are looking at an industry sector with unique characteristics that
make it a good candidate for process engineering innovations that will
in the future be more efficient and more sustainable," explained
Slater in a press release.

"To make our work more real-world, Bristol-Myers Squibb said we could
be involved in a current project. We're actually meeting and working
with the real team that's developing this drug, which is in Phase II
clinical trials and being made on a pilot scale," he added.

Bristol-Myers Squibb has received a great deal of work from Rowan's
impressive chemical engineering department. Ranked fourth in the
nation by US News and World Report's annual findings, Rowan's chemical
engineering department has succeeded in reducing waste products by

"[We] have been tracking the environmental process for certain drugs
they are manufacturing," said Fichana. "It has become extremely more
green compared with the initial [process]."

"Bristol-Myers Squibb has a long commitment to developing
manufacturing processes that are sustainable and environmentally
sound," said San Kiang of Bristol-Myers Squibb in a press release, who
initiated the project with Rowan. "This program with Rowan allows
Bristol-Myers Squibb to share its expertise in Green Chemistry in the
hope that it will have a lasting impact on these future scientists."

Rowan engineers have also developed a "solvent selection table" that
allows Bristol-Myers Squibb to compare solvents for each process. The
first table that allows developers to specify the mass of each
solvent, Rowan engineer's table currently includes 65 solvents, with
two fields for comparison.

"It came up in a conversation that they didn't have a way to gauge
variable environmental parameters," said Fichana. "The main goal was
to increase the maximum value in the process... [we] decreased the
solvent usage that way."

Bristol-Myers Squibb has expanded the stable, which originally only
included 32 solvents, since its invention. The table allows Bristol-
Myers Squibb to select benign solvents in their development process.
These solvents are less caustic to the environment and produce less
waste. Current waste pollutes on many levels, including inhalation and
toxicity and effects global warming and o-zone formation.

Work has been aided by an US Environmental Protection Agency grant
totaling just under $27 thousand. Rowan undergraduate Nick DeSantis of
Blackwood said that work will go this year, with the possibility of
experimenting their findings in Bristol-Myers Squibb's New Brunswick

A great deal of progress has already been made, but like the war on
disease, the war on pollution is one of attrition and much work is
left to be done.

Copyright The Plain Dealer 2005