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Heraeus fighting cancer

technology report online, January 2018

Anti-tumor agents by Heraeus help fight cancer. Again, Heraeus’ plant in Hanau receives the GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) certificate of the German authority recognizing Heraeus’ top quality and safety standards.

Worldwide, there are over 12 million people diagnosed with cancer each year. 8 million of those people die from its effects, including over 200,000 in Germany. Thus, the need for effective cancer drugs and treatments is correspondingly high.

For over 35 years, Heraeus has helped countless cancer patients in the fight against cancer with platinum-based pharmaceutical ingredients used in chemotherapy. The production of these highly active substances is very demanding. Anti-tumor agents must exhibit the highest levels of purity and highly specific manufacturing requirements must be maintained.

One of the primary goals of cancer research is to discover more effective and more tolerated therapies, which can significantly improve the quality of life for patients both during and after treatment. This is especially true for the innovative field of “Targeted Therapies”, in which the active agents are deployed directly against cancer cells like molecular guided missiles. Heraeus developers are currently working on new highly active ingredients and thus contribute to the fight against cancer.

3 Questions to Dr. Marcus Hannakam, Executive Vice President and Head of Pharmaceutical Ingredients at Heraeus.

Dr. Marcus Hannakam, Executive Vice President and Head of Pharmaceutical Ingredients at Heraeus talks about the role Heraeus plays in cancer treatment.

In which way is Heraeus active in the production of pharmaceutical ingredients (hAPIs)?

Dr. Marcus Hannakam: In Hanau, we have been producing the chemical compound Cisplatin as a catalyst for silicone production since the 1970s. In the 1980s, the pharmaceutical industry became aware of us and asked for pharmaceutical-grade Cisplatin as a highly active pharmaceutical ingredient for the treatment of cancer in chemotherapy. Today, we are the world‘s number one manufacturer of platinum-based “Cytostatics”, i.e. cell growth inhibitors - made in Germany: Cisplatin, and the advanced molecules Carboplatin and Oxaliplatin. Later, we successfully introduced also metal-free active pharmaceutical ingredients into our product range. Since 2012, we have also been offering exclusive contract development and manufacturing of new molecules with promising results in early phases. Although our Business Line manufactures such ingredients only in Hanau, it serves the markets in all time zones and regions.

What are the next milestones for your business?

Dr. Marcus Hannakam: After some 40 years, platinum-based drugs are still the state of the art in cancer treatment. Today, such platinum compounds apply to some 50 per cent of all chemotherapies worldwide, in most cases with active pharmaceutical ingredients manufactured by Heraeus. Moreover, top-quality requirements apply. We are inspected by the health authorities on a regular basis, inter alia by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and by all of our customers. In the meantime, new molecules for the treatment of cancer are developing, which our Marketing & Sales professionals are closely tracking on the market together with our Innovation team, deriving and securing interesting potentials. Here, we seed for the long-term future, because it takes more than ten years from the development of a molecule to its approval and commercial availability.

Heraeus is a CDMO for anticancer hAPIs. What does this mean for your customers?

Dr. Marcus Hannakam: Heraeus has been a key manufacturer of selected anticancer hAPIs for decades. The continuous quality and the comprehensive service bundled with our team’s expertise in precious metals is our key here. Heraeus’ excellent track record with all major health authorities expedites our business into every corner of the globe. Today our portfolio also comprises various organic hAPIs and specialties. Challenging hAPIs for oncology is our clear focus. Heraeus entered into its CDMO activities for new entities some years ago and, as always, has proven to be a reliable and competent hAPI partner throughout all the preclinical and clinical phases for our valued customers.

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