Texas A&M University-Kingsville

A&M-Kingsville Chemistry Professor, Former Student Honored for Environmentally Friendly Drug Production Patent

KINGSVILLE - April 02, 2008

Contact: Jason Marton
jason.marton@tamuk.edu or 361-593-4143

Duo recognized for new one-step, waste-free process to produce acetaminophen

Dr. Apu Bhattacharya, associate professor of chemistry at Texas A&M University-Kingsville, and Victor Suarez, a former master’s student of Bhattacharya, will be among the honorees at the annual Texas A&M University System Office of Technology Commercialization Patent Award Luncheon April 4 in College Station.

The luncheon recognizes Texas A&M University System inventors that received a U.S. patent in 2007. Bhattacharya and Suarez patented a simplified process for producing acetaminophen, the world’s most widely used analgesic, with no waste byproduct to dispose of. Their patent will be among 26 U.S. patents and two plant variety patents recognized in the ceremony.

The official name of the patent is “Efficient Salt-Free One-Pot Reductive Acetamidation of Aryl Nitro Compounds by Thioacetate Anion through its In Situ Catalytic Re-Generation: Application in the Synthesis of Acetaminophen.”

Their process is one step, as opposed to the current pharmaceutical industry standard of four to five steps; uses no solvent, an element used in typical acetaminophen production that needs to be removed as waste afterwards; and makes a much larger amount of acetaminophen per batch compared to current acetaminophen production.

By eliminating all waste byproduct, the patent improves on a similar one-step acetaminophen production patent earned by Bhattacharya through the A&M-Kingsville chemistry department in 2004. Acetaminophen is marketed worldwide under the brand names Tylenol®, Panadol® and others. In the U.S., it frequently is used in products that contain the words “aspirin-free” in their brand names.

“I am very proud for Texas A&M-Kingsville and for my student, who has shown that he can compete with the very best,” said Bhattacharya. “For a master’s student to patent a drug process like this is not an easy thing.”

Suarez, currently a chemistry doctoral student at Texas A&M University, credits the patent achievement for a number of positives in his academic career. “It has impressed my professors that I was able to obtain a patent during my master’s degree work. It also has given me a sense of accomplishment and confidence in myself and my abilities.”

“The chemistry department is very proud that Mr. Suarez and Dr. Bhattacharya were able to patent their work,” said Dr. Greg Moehring, professor and chair of chemistry. “The patent demonstrates the high quality of research that is ongoing in our department.”

Bhattacharya recently returned to teach at Texas A&M-Kingsville after a two-year leave of absence serving as a senior vice president and global research and development head for Dr. Reddy’s in Hyderabad, India, one of the world’s largest generic pharmaceutical companies. He will continue working with Dr. Reddy’s as a consultant.

Bhattacharya said that relationships with Indian pharmaceutical companies such as Dr. Reddy’s will open the door to exciting and challenging collaborative research and career opportunities unique to Texas A&M-Kingsville and its students. “In today’s fast moving world, it is important that we globalize our research efforts in tune with not only U.S. industries but also industries in India and China,” said Reddy.

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