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June 2023

By Chris Moreton

Why I volunteered, and continue to volunteer, for the Handbook of Pharmaceutical Excipients

I first became aware of the Handbook of Pharmaceutical Excipients (the Handbook) even before the 1st edition was published.  It was inspired by a collaborative effort in Switzerland; Katalog der Pharmazeutisches Hilfstoffen, which was a collaboration between scientists from Roche, Sandoz and CIBA-Geigy, and which gave details on excipients beyond that found in the pharmacopoeias.

About the time the content for the 2nd edition of the Handbook was being assembled, in 1992 or 1993, I was working for an excipient and drug delivery company.  I had noted that some of the excipients on the company’s product list did not have monographs in the 1st Edition.  I contacted Pharmaceutical Press and offered to write the monographs for those excipients.  My offer was gratefully accepted.  That is how my association with the Handbook began, and I have continued, and am continuing, to support the work of the Handbook ever since.

The reasons I support the work of the Handbook include my fascination with excipients.  I am by training and experience a formulation scientist, and excipients are one of the tools of my trade.  Without excipients, we would not have medicines, and the therapeutic advances of the last 120 years likely would not have happened.

Before the development of the Handbook, information on excipients was spread out through the pharmaceutical industry and academia.  There was no central repository, and countless hours were lost in duplicated searches by the different formulators looking for similar information.  It seemed to me from the outset that the Handbook was an extremely worthwhile project, and I remain even more firmly of that opinion 30 years later.

I enjoy working with my fellow contributors on the Handbook.  We come from many different backgrounds and countries, but we all realise that we are contributing to a project that will benefit pharmaceutical scientists for generations to come.  I am continually learning new things, as I am sure my fellow contributors are.

Generally, the work we do is not onerous: revising and reviewing monographs and chapters does not take that much time.  Starting a new monograph or Chapter from scratch, requires more effort; but I have not found it burdensome.  However, even then I enjoy finding out new things; new understanding about excipients.  There are always the other contributors and colleagues who can help if you get stuck.

For those of you who are interested in contributing to the Handbook, I can thoroughly recommend it.  Your help will be very much appreciated, and you will be helping future generations of pharmaceutical scientists.

By R. Christian Moreton, Partner, FinnBrit Consulting, Waltham, MA, USA


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