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Making medicine cheaper

Media release

Curtin University of Technology researcher Dr David Brown is investigating ways of reducing the cost of manufacturing medicines.

Using facilities at Curtin’s new $116 million Resources and Chemistry Precinct, Dr Brown is examining alternative metals that would be cheaper or more efficient than those currently being used.

“One of the greatest problems with the metals being used at present is that they are expensive,” he said.

“For instance, Rhodium, a commonly used catalyst, is $250 per gram, while Palladium, another popular catalyst, is $10 per gram.

“If we can find metals that can work in similar reactions, we may be able to replace these metals with some that are more cost effective.”

To do this, Dr Brown is examining the possibility of replacing Palladium with Nickel.

“At two cents per gram, it is certainly the cheaper option,” he said.

Curtin’s Head of Chemistry, Professor Mark Buntine, said the research was an exciting part of Curtin’s expanded chemistry research capabilities.

“Dr Brown’s work has a practical, real-world application that has the potential to make a significant difference to people’s lives by making medicines cheaper.”

The Resources and Chemistry Precinct, which is supported by BHP Billiton, is home to Curtin’s Department of Chemistry and the State Government’s ChemCentre.

The hub of chemistry and resources related research, education and training in WA, the Precinct is a cluster of more than 200 research and teaching staff, one of the greatest concentrations of expertise in fields such as hydrometallurgy, water quality and treatment, nanotechnology, corrosion research, forensic science and biotechnology in the Southern Hemisphere.