‘Raising the quality bar’: Alkemist Labs becomes US distributor of Extrasynthese phytochemical standards

By Stephen DANIELLS

- Last updated on GMT

Photo courtesy of Alkemist Labs
Photo courtesy of Alkemist Labs

Related tags: Chemistry

Costa Mesa-based Alkemist Labs has expanded its reference material offerings to include phytochemical reference standards from France-based Extrasynthese.

“Recent events have many companies reexamining their herbal testing programs, and are looking for ways to make them unimpeachable,”​ said Elan Sudberg, CEO of Alkemist Labs.

“The playing field is changing in response to the industry's demand for traceability,” ​he told us. “All this time there has only been a few ‘sandwich shops’ on the block. Alkemist Lab's direct distribution of Extrasynthese standards offers the industry a reliable source that is both transparent and dependable.

“Making these standards readily available to the industry is just part of raising the quality bar.”

Demystifying the whole ‘testing thing’

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Phytochemical standards – pure substances mostly derived from plants for which chemical structure has been determined and for which purity has been accurately measured – can be made by extraction and/or chemical synthesis. They can be complex and fragile materials, and their production requires advanced skills in extraction, organic chemistry and purification techniques, the main set of purification techniques being ‘preparative chromatography’.

After isolation, these purified substances need to be accurately qualified in order to be used as ‘standards’, using specific analytical techniques to determine their absolute purity and the content of  ‘by-products’ like water or solvents.

“Alkemist is working to demystify the whole ‘testing thing’ and explaining what reference standards are and why they matter is part of our overall mission,” ​said Sudberg.

“Most retailers simply purchase and re-label reference materials where as Extrasynthese is the manufacturer,” ​he added.  “Our relationship gives the US market access to these valuable reference standards, some unique only to Extrasynthese and at a competitive price.”

Extrasynthese’s standards have never been sold directly in the US under their name, said Sudberg, but they have been purchased, relabeled and sold by other vendors. “While you could have purchased them directly from Europe, this will allow greater access to the expanding US market,”​ he said.

“Unlike other industries such as petrochemical or metallurgy, the production of standards for herbal products is not yet seriously regulated or normalized,”​ said René de Vaumas, CEO of Extrasynthese, which offers hundreds of reference materials and is continuously adding new standards. “In pharma, FDA and EMEA have started to issue guidelines and have developed a collection of ‘official standards’, but for the herbal products industry the use of standards is voluntary, and shows a company is serious about testing their products.”

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