With the unprecedented attention paid to the subject of process analytical technology (PAT) in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries over the last year or two, many scientists and engineers now find themselves asking whether it is more hype or a tangible development. While PAT has received significant attention of late, its application is nothing new. Although spectroscopy is the most common analytical tool utilized in the application of PAT, other techniques hold strong potential as well.
Of all the analytical technologies utilized in PAT applications, spectroscopy is the largest in terms of dollars, with near infrared (NIR) by far the most common technique. Electrochemistry, while smaller in dollar terms, is more commonly applied due to the lower cost and relative simplicity of this technique. Other analytical techniques that are now seeing significant application include particle size analysis, HPLC, mass spectrometry, and the small but fast growing technique of thermal effusivity. The market for software for instrument control, process modeling, and data collection and analysis lags significantly behind the instrument technologies in terms of development, and is primarily the realm of software consultants who develop highly customized solutions for individual manufacturers. The combined worldwide PAT instrument and software market was worth nearly $150 million in 2005, but should see annual growth in the mid-teens through 2010.The foregoing data was extracted from SDi's market analysis and perspectives report titled PAT Instrumentation: The Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology Market for Process Analytical Technology, January 2006 . For more information, contact Stuart Press, Senior Consultant, Strategic Directions International, Inc., 6242 Westchester Parkway, Suite 100, Los Angeles, CA 90045, (310) 641-4982, fax: (310) 641-8851, http://www.strategic-directions.com/.