Extracting Antibiotics

Antibiotics, compounds or substances that combat bacterial infections and kill or slow down their growth, comprise one of the most important groups of drugs in the fight against infectious diseases. Representing around 13% of total pharmaceutical consumption, they have the highest market share of any pharmaceutical product.

In liquid-based applications, the pharmaceutical industry extracts antibiotics from fermentation broths. GEA supports this process with special decanters that facilitate the process, offering efficient direct extraction solutions that are also environmentally friendly.

The Extraction Process

Extraction essentially consists of two combined processes: mixing and separating. GEA has developed a patented decanter that combines the two process steps in a single machine to enhance the extraction of active ingredients.

This decanter allows suspensions with a high solids content to be processed, rendering them suitable for direct antibiotic extraction from the culture solution (which often has a high mycelium content). The previously essential filtration step is no longer required, which not only makes the process continuous, it also prevents the loss of valuable material that was frequently associated with filtration.

Advantages of Direct Extraction

Offering increased total yields of up to 98% compared with conventional counter-current extraction, direct extraction is also significantly more cost-effective (no filter aids are needed). The fermentation broth itself is not diluted by filter wash water, which both reduces the solvent requirement and the risk of infection. In addition, the optimized procedure also reduces wastewater pollution and the actual volume of wastewater produced.

The GEA Solution

Driven by new product innovations, high levels of R&D investment and the pharmaceutical industry’s need to ameliorate the issue of antibiotic resistance, the antibiotic market is expected to show continued growth. From R&D-scale and standalone manufacturing equipment to completely integrated process lines that maximize operational reliability, GEA supplies a complete range of equipment and solutions for the industrial-scale production of antibiotics, antibacterials and anti-infectives.