Author: Bob Brousseau

Joerg Ahlgrimm, CEO SK pharmteco
Joerg Ahlgrimm, CEO SK pharmteco

An open letter from our CEO, Joerg Ahlgrimm, to SK pharmteco Customers

SK pharmteco

SK pharmteco

January 30, 2023

An open letter from our CEO, Joerg Ahlgrimm to SK pharmteco Customers

SK pharmteco’s mission is to improve patient outcomes and save lives by partnering with our customers to produce and deliver life-changing therapies through manufacturing and technical excellence, a positive and adaptable workforce, and an intense focus on safety, quality, and innovation. Our goal is to ensure the success of you, our customer, and partner.

We achieve this through a ‘One Team’ mentality, where all team members, regardless of geographical location or department, work together as a cohesive unit. This approach emphasizes teamwork, open communication, and collaboration across all disciplines. Our company culture fosters a shared sense of ownership- an “in it together with our customers’ mentality”- working closely to ensure the best outcome for our customers and patients.

Our relationship with you, our customer, is more than just drafting an agreement with us; it is a relationship that relies on clear expectations, communication, and trust. We partner with you to address and solve production challenges utilizing our expertise, technology, and innovation. We will leverage our global presence, expertise in operational excellence, commitment to on-time delivery, and high-quality standards, to increase the value of our products and services for you.

Like a family with a strong heritage, our company is built on foundational values such as an entrepreneurial spirit, a focus on results, an innovative mindset, and flexibility. We are continuously expanding our global footprint, capacity, and capabilities to improve patient outcomes and benefit communities around the globe. We are dedicated to ensuring success for all stakeholders – customers, employees, shareholders, and society at large – by consistently delivering on our commitments.

 All our customers are treated equally, regardless of their size or project scope. From the initial encounter with our Business Development Team to the dedicated Project Manager assigned to your project, you will work with a team of well-qualified, action-oriented, and empowered individuals who are committed to making things happen. We believe this is a key differentiator in the partnership proposition we offer, setting us apart from our competitors.

I, as CEO, am no exception. I have over 25 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry, with a background in production planning, supply chain, operations, and manufacturing. My experience enables me to step into your shoes to understand your challenges and needs, allowing me to support you on your journey to commercial launch.

The RFP process at SK pharmteco begins with a multidisciplinary team decision to respond to an RFP, which is only made when the team is confident that they can provide a superior service. As CEO, I am regularly involved in these discussions to ensure that the company is only committing to projects that we can deliver successfully.

As an SK pharmteco customer, you will have an open line of communication with me. I am always available through any means of communication, including phone, email, or in-person meetings based on the need. Customers can contact me via their Business Development Executive or dedicated Project Manager or by contacting me via joerg.ahlgrimm@skpharmteco.com; that is my commitment to you!

We’re not finished yet…our entrepreneurial spirit means we are constantly looking for new methods, services, and capabilities to enhance and adapt our offering based on customer and market needs. Our goal is to become a one-stop shop for our biotech and pharma customers, providing comprehensive manufacturing services and capabilities across diverse modalities. We are always open to feedback and suggestions, and I encourage you to reach out if there is anything more we can do to better serve your needs.

Thank you for this opportunity to be your partner, and I look forward to working with you.

Yours sincerely,

Joerg Ahlgrimm,

CEO SK pharmteco

Nitrosamines: An Overview

This is the first in a series of entries examining nitrosamines in a range of products.  

 Nitrosamines are organic compounds found in the human diet and other environmental outlets. Being potent carcinogens that can cause tumors in nearly all organs, they have been classified as genotoxic impurities (GTIs). There are guidelines and rulings by various regulatory organizations, including the FDA, EPA, EMA, and the IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer). Their presence and attendant concerns have been noted for many years. A.J. Gushgari and R.U. Halden wrote in Chemosphere,  Nitrosamines were first proposed as environmental carcinogens by William Lijinsky in 1970, which fostered research on N-nitrosamine occurrences in environmental media.”1 These included “ambient water, aquatic sediments, and municipal sewage sludge (Schreiber and Mitch, 2006; Venkatesan et al., 2014; Zeng and Mitch, 2015; Gushgari et al., 2017).”1 Concern about their presence has significantly expanded to include food and active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs). Our next two blog entries will explore the effects and mitigation of nitrosamines in these two areas. 

Background on Nitrosamines
Basically, “Nitrosamines are formed from the reaction of nitrite with primary, secondary, or tertiary amines in an acidic medium.”2 Primary and tertiary amines are typically not concerns for nitrosamines, but should be part of the chemical evaluation as there are cases where they can be impacted to form these impurities. 

 Since nitrates and the conditions are common in a wide range of products, vigilance is warranted. The reaction between nitrous acid and primary aromatic amines was first observed and reported in 1864 by Peter Griess. The work of Baeyer and Caro, and Otto Witt in the 1870s further researched the reaction. As Gushgari and Halden state, it was Witt in his 1878 publication that the term “nitrosamine” was first introduced to describe ““any substituted ammonia which contains, instead of at least one atom of hydrogen, the univalent nitrosyl group, NO, in immediate connection with the ammoniacal nitrogen”.”1 Almost one hundred years later, the aforementioned William Lijinsky, studying the environmental causes of cancer and specifically chemical carcinogens, began his decades-long examination of nitrosamines, eventually leading him to appear before multiple congressional committees and to work with the FDA. As a result, the FDA issued numerous guidelines in the following decades, with many released in the last few years. The FDA’s guideline of a current acceptable intake limit is 26.5 ng/day for APIs. For drinking water, it is 7 ng/L. Along with many other resources, they published Control of Nitrosamine Impurities in Human Drugs (PDF) for “immediate implementation” on September 1, 2020.  The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has also been active in this area, with many resources found here 

 Many Types and an Increasing Concern 
Of course, there is more than one type of nitrosamine to contend with since there are countless combinations of the structural elements available. Sebastian Schmidtsdorff et al. listed a table (Figure 1) of sixteen investigated nitrosamines with their attendant CAS numbers, abbreviations, and interim limits (IL).4 These were discovered during their research using 249 different, randomly selected samples of APIs from 66 manufacturers.   

Figure 1
(N/A = not applicable/interim limits not published yet). 

Name  Abbreviation  CAS-No.  IL Interim Limits (ng/day) 
N-Nitrosodimethylamine  NDMA  62-75-9  96 
N-Nitrosomethylethylamine  NMEA  10595-95-6  NA 
N-Nitrosodiethylamine  NDEA  55-18-5  26.5 
N-Nitrosodiethanolamine  NDELA  1116-54-7  NA 
N-Nitrosoethylisopropylamine  NEiPA  16339-04-1  26.5 
N-Nitrosodiisopropylamine  NDiPA  601-77-4  26.5 
N-Nitrosodi-n-propylamine  NDPA  621-64-7  26.5 
N-Nitrosodi-n-butylamine  NDBA  924-16-3  26.5 
N-Methyl-N-nitrosoaniline (N-nitrosomethylphenylamine)  NMPhA  614-00-6  34.3 
N-Nitrosomethyl(2-phenylethyl)amine  NMEPhA  13256-11-6  8 
N-Nitrosodiphenylamine  NDPhA  86-30-6  NA 
N-Nitrosopyrrolidine  NPyr  930-55-2  NA 
N-Nitrosopiperidine  NPip  100-75-4  1300 
N-Nitrosomorpholine  NMor  59-89-2  127 
1-Methyl-4-nitrosopiperazine  MNPaz  16339-07-4  26.5 
N-Nitroso-N-methyl-4-aminobutyric acid  NMBA  61445-55-4  96 

 The most commonly occurring nitrosamines in APIs are NDMA, NDEA, NMBA, NDPA, NEIPA, NDBA, and NMPA. In addition to the number of nitrosamines, the products where they have been detected have increased dramatically. For example, since the discovery of their presence in an API, Valsartan (an Angiotensin-II-receptor antagonist) in 2018, they have been detected in other medicines resulting in 250 product recalls, affecting more than 1400 lots.5,6 In addition to the financial impact of these recalls costly litigation has risen too. 

 A Positive Note
Interestingly, although nitrosamine impurities in products are an ever-present concern, at least one medication, Carmustine [154-93-8] (Figure 2), is an antineoplastic nitrosourea [13010-20-3] and is used in treating several forms of cancer.7,8 

Figure 2 

carmustine structure

Final Thoughts
Nitrosamines can form during the manufacturing and processing of foods, beverages, medicines, and numerous other products.  In addition, they can form upon storage.5 Despite detection challenges, rigorous testing and mitigation services are available to screen and avoid their formation, thereby protecting consumers. In fact, AMPAC Analytical (AAL) has the specialized expertise, equipment, and implemented stringent methodologies to detect these impurities, utilizing gas chromatography or high-performance liquid chromatography coupled with tandem or high-resolution mass spectrometry. AAL currently maintains three validated procedures for general nitrosamines screening. Please feel free to contact us with any specific questions or to receive a quote for nitrosamine screening in your product. 

 Items marked with an asterisk are open access or available without registering. 

References  

  1. * https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chemosphere.2018.07.098 
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2184959/ 
  3. * https://doi.org/10.1016/j.xphs.2022.11.013 
  4. * https://doi.org/10.1002/ardp.202200484 
  5. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.jmedchem.0c02120 
  6. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-09-01/drug-recalls-for-nitrosamines-could-cost-big-pharma-millions 
  7. * https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Carmustine 
  8. * https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682060.html 

Resources & Further Reading 

AMPAC 

General Information on Nitrosamines 

Nitrosamine Exposure and Environmental Concerns 

Nitrosamine and Pharmaceuticals 

Nitrosamine and the Diet