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An Author's Question
« on: April 18, 2017, 08:41:31 PM »
Hello Chemists:

I am writing a novel about a future dystopian world in which no drugs are legal and all disabilities are 'illegal', and no one can get medication they need.  My plan is to have 'illegal' chemists who formulate drugs for various conditions, physical and mental illnesses, in secret fairly simple labs. 

How possible is that, really?

I've spent some time reading patents of various medications and it struck me that many steps of drug manufacture are relatively simple.  For example, I looked at a number of medications for which a number of steps in creating the medication, required extremely simple compounds like acetic acid, various common solvents and processing at specific temperatures for specific times.   And it struck me that in many cases, these steps could be done in very, very simple labs.

Do you think this is possible?  Small, simple, hidden labs could manufacture medications?

Offline Arkcon

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Re: An Author's Question
« Reply #1 on: April 18, 2017, 09:06:56 PM »
Here's something you can do.  Look up how medicines were made years ago.  In Victorian times, or in the US Old West, the doctor would purchase a drug, and formulate himself.  Pressing tablets in order to sell them.  Often, the bulk active was made according to an even more ancient "recipe" like the manufacture of opium.  You can expand your story from there.  Don't forget, if this is the future, you can imagine anything -- for example people growing nanobots to fix disease.
Hey, I'm not judging.  I just like to shoot straight.  I'm a man of science.

Offline Corribus

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Re: An Author's Question
« Reply #2 on: April 18, 2017, 09:48:26 PM »
In the "old days", most medicines were natural products, usually processed in such a way as to make them more transportable, palatable, or effective. Is this what you mean by "formulate"? Or do you mean chemically synthesize?

I think either one is possible, but scale up and quality control is a problem for a "fairly simple" lab - especially if by "fairly simple" you mean a home kitchen.
What men are poets who can speak of Jupiter if he were like a man, but if he is an immense spinning sphere of methane and ammonia must be silent?  - Richard P. Feynman

Offline Borek

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Re: An Author's Question
« Reply #3 on: April 19, 2017, 03:16:55 AM »
IMHO main problem would be not synthesis per se (these are quite often reasonably easy and don't require difficult to reproduce conditions) but access to reagents (some of which do require industrial setup and are quite difficult to produce in home lab).
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Offline kriggy

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Re: An Author's Question
« Reply #4 on: April 24, 2017, 03:03:17 PM »
Well there can be whole underground network. Depending on how far is the future but for example in warhammer 40 000 earth is completely covered in single citty that is build on remants of the older citties. Stuff like "Nova York" is basicaly a myth burried somewhere deep. And obviously, no law enforcemnt realy go there so its fillled with nasty guys

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