Sulfur is an essential component of all living cells. In plants and animals, the amino acids cysteine and methionine contain most of the sulfur, and the element is present in all polypeptides, proteins, and enzymes that contain these amino acids. Sulfur-containing compounds often show different biological activities and provide important functions in pharmaceutical industry applications. Sulfonamides, thioethers, sulfones, and penicillins are the most common scaffolds in sulfur-containing drugs. Sulfonamide drugs were the first antibiotics to be used systemically, and they paved the way for the antibiotic revolution in medicine. Sulfonamides function as diuretics and in hypertensive therapy. Sulfones are found in numerous medicines. Their main functions are as proton pump inhibitors and antibiotics. Penicillins are a group of antibiotics that were among the first medications to be effective against many bacterial infections caused by Staphylococcus and Streptococcus species. Penicillins are still widely used today, but their extensive use has led to many types of bacteria having resistance to them. Other sulfur-containing moieties such as thiophenes and thiazoles can be found in pharmaceutical molecules as well.
Medichem is an active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) manufacturer with headquarters in Barcelona, Spain and manufacturing sites in Girona, Spain; Malta; and China. Because of its long career in new product development, it has a large variety of APIs, including sulfur-containing compounds, for the treatment of a wide spectrum of diseases (e.g., cardiovascular events and diabetes) in its portfolio. Over the past years, sulfur-containing compounds have increased their relevance. Some of those products were developed early in the company’s history, but new regulations, such as green chemistry and solvent economy, have made it necessary to adapt those processes. And the capacity of the sulfur group to oxidize under normal reaction conditions with atmospheric oxygen is an added challenge to the process and a parameter to take into account.
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