Patricia Hurter is the senior vice president of Global Pharmaceutical Development at Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. She has a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and worked in the paper industry and at Merck prior to joining Vertex in 2004.
Most pharmaceutical manufacturing is conducted using batch manufacturing processes, in which all materials are charged before the start of the process and discharged at the end. Most other industries transitioned to continuous manufacturing (CM) around the time of the Industrial Revolution. CM, in which material is simultaneously charged and discharged from the process, is generally considered to be more efficient in consistently delivering a higher quality product and is the norm for most other industries. The first continuous paper machine was patented in 1799, and the oldest known continuous process is the blast furnace for producing pig iron, which was first operated in approximately the first century AD in China. And the Haber process, which converts nitrogen and hydrogen to ammonia at high temperature and high pressure, was run as a continuous process producing 20 tons per day by 1914. Continue reading