July 15, 2009 — Scientists in Louisiana are reporting development of a process for
producing large batches of a new and potentially safer form of
acetaminophen, the widely used pain-reliever now the source of growing
concern over its potentially toxic effects on the liver. Their study,
which could speed development of a next-generation pain-reliever, is
scheduled for the July 17 issue of ACS’ Organic Process Research & Development, a bi-monthly journal.
In June, an advisory panel of the U. S. Food and Drug Administration
recommended banning certain prescription pain relievers containing
acetaminophen because of the drug’s potential to cause liver damage
when used in high doses. Mark Trudell and colleagues note in the study
that scientists recently discovered a new form of acetaminophen that
has similar potency to the original drug with a lower risk of liver
toxicity. But until now, scientists have had difficulty producing this
substance in quantities suitable for industrial scale-up.
The researchers describe a simple, efficient method for producing the
new pain-reliever using only a few starting materials and a short
series of chemical reactions. In laboratory studies, they used the new
method to produce multigram quantities of the substance with 99 percent
purity. The scientists point out that the new process can be performed
on a much larger production level if needed.
–News release courtesy of American Chemical Society