Key Drugmaking Reagent As Inflammable as Gunpowder Warns Novasep

By Gareth Macdonald

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Chemistry

Key Drugmaking Reagent Burns Like Gunpowder Warns Novasep
Key Drugmaking Reagent Burns Like Gunpowder Warns Novasep
Novasep has discovered that the drug manufacturing regent Togni II is highly explosive and as inflammable as gunpowder.

The new research – detailed in the March edition of the journal Organic Process Research and Development​ – was carried out by a team at Novasep’s facility in Leverkusen, Germany.

A spokeswoman told in-Pharmatechnologist.com the study – which was prompted by incentives from internal team working with the reagent at 1kg scale – revealed that Togni II “is shock sensitive and explodes upon heating under partially confined conditions​.”

The researchers also found that the reagent has a combustion factor of BZ6 – meaning it undergoes “very rapid combustion” when burned in the presence of oxygen - which is the same rating given to gun powder.

Togni II – or 1-(trifluoromethyl)-1,2-benziodoxol-3(1H)-one - is used to add trifluoromethyl groups to compounds during drug production and is widely employed in both the pharmaceutical industry and by academic groups conducting research.

Novasep’s discoveries prompted reclassification and the introduction of the requirement that all handling and transportation of the reagent by approved by national competent authorities across Europe. 


Novasep - which provides contract manufacturing services to the pharmaceutical industry - also warned drugmakers that use the chemical during production operations to take necessary safety precautions.

The spokeswoman told us that drugmakers who use Togni II should “use a phlegmatized form​” of the chemical and “turn to experts in hazardous chemistries​” and the published paper for more guidance.

Various media reports covering the finding suggested that the related compound Togni I may have similar explosive characteristics. When asked, the spokeswoman said that while this may well be the case more work is needed.  

The energy release in differential scanning calorimetry is greater than for Togni II but on the other end this reagent is not shock sensitive. We did not perform extended tests as we have bought only a small sample of this compound​” she said, explaining that tests require greater quantities of Togni I.

Novasep’s finding also prompted comment from Antonio Togni – professor of organometallic chemistry at the Laboratory of Inorganic Chemistry, ETH Zurich and inventor of the reagent – who commended Novasep.

The work completed by Novasep regarding the Togni Reagent II will contribute to a more deliberate and responsible handling of the reagent used by so many research groups​.”

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