Nature’s help for the forgetful mind

Hidden in the little white snowdrops that mark the first signs that spring is on its way is a powerful chemical which when properly extracted can be used to treat memory loss, particularly in Alzheimer’s disease.

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“In 2005 here in Neufeld about 5 tons of galantamine were chemically generated, enabling the production of effective and affordable Alzheimer drugs.”
Anton Dallos, Chief Technical Officer

With the help of EU funding, Sanochemia Pharmaceuticals AG has been researching the chemical composition of galantamine to produce a white powder which effectively slows down the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. The venture not only brings hope to sufferers but also jobs to the underdeveloped region of Austria, Burgenland.

Making galantamine affordable

While snowdrops are likely to be the last thing visitors to Sanochemia will spot, the site in Neufeld accommodates the entire gamut of research, production, technology and logistics required for the industrial production of galantamine. The site produces a white power which is then processed into pills and sold worldwide by Johnson & Johnson and Shire Pharmaceuticals.

In the 1950s one kilogram of galantamine cost up to $30 000 to produce. One ton of snowdrop roots yielded just 8 grams. The research into the industrial synthesis of galantamine that was carried out by Sanochemia made it possible to produce the substance at a much more reasonable cost. 

This research has been especially important given that roughly two-thirds of all people over 90 today suffer from Alzheimer’s disease.

Securing jobs

The industrial synthesis of galantamine has secured around 100 jobs at Sanochemia in Neufeld, with two thirds of these posts being held by Burgenland residents. The positions are mostly in the fields of chemistry, process engineering, pharmaceuticals and mechanical engineering. Their innovation and research potential is helping to guarantee Sanochemia’s place in the pharmaceuticals market.

Since 1996, when the company was awarded the patent on industrial synthesis of galantamine, its reputation as a major research-oriented player has continued to grow. Synthesis now accounts for over 60% of the company’s turnover.

Draft date

06/01/2010