The early use of near infrared (NIR) spectroscopy in the pharmaceutical industry was for raw material identification, later moving on to some conventional “calibrations” for various ingredients in a variety of sample types. The approach throughout this development process has always been “conventional” with one measurement by NIR directly replacing some other slower method, be it Mid-IR identification, or determinations by Karl Fischer, high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC)etc. A significant change in approach was demonstrated by Plugge and Van der Vlies1 in 1993, where a qualitative system was used to provide “quantitative like” answers for potency of a drug substance. Following on from that key paper, there has been a realisation that the qualitative analysis ability of NIR, has the potential to be a powerful tool for process investigation, control and validation. The final step has been to develop “model free” approaches, that consider individual data sets as unique systems, and present the opportunity for NIR to escape the shackles of “calibration” in one form or another. The use of qualitative, or model free, approaches to NIR spectroscopy provides an effective tool for satisfying many of the demands of modern pharmaceutical production. “Straight through production,” “right first time,” “short cycle time” and “total quality management” philosophies can be realised. Eventually the prospect of parametric release may be materialised with a strong contribution from NIR spectroscopy. This paper will illustrate the above points with some real life examles.
© 1998 NIR Publications
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