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Chiroptical Spectroscopy in Drug Analysis

Forensic Science

  1. Harry G. Brittain

Published Online: 15 SEP 2006

DOI: 10.1002/9780470027318.a1104

Encyclopedia of Analytical Chemistry

Encyclopedia of Analytical Chemistry

How to Cite

Brittain, H. G. 2006. Chiroptical Spectroscopy in Drug Analysis. Encyclopedia of Analytical Chemistry. .

Author Information

  1. Center for Pharmaceutical Physics, Milford, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 SEP 2006


Many pharmaceutical compounds contain one or more centers of dissymmetry, thus presenting a unique series of regulatory and compendial requirements. The regulatory authorities are well acquainted with the fact that one given enantiomer or diastereomer of a drug entity may possess more efficacy (or fewer side effects) than its mirror image. Consequently, unless a compelling argument exists for the marketing of a racemate, it is more appropriate to develop enantiomerically pure therapeutic agents. Although most often characterized using chiral chromatography, these molecules can be effectively studied using the various techniques of chiroptical spectroscopy. Techniques that have been found to be very useful for such work include polarimetry (i.e. circular birefringence), optical rotatory dispersion (ORD), and circular dichroism (CD). At present, regulatory authorities remain fixated on the use of polarimetry to establish enantiomeric identity and purity, but as their awareness grows so will an acceptance of the more sophisticated chiroptical techniques. In this article, the principles underlying each chiroptical effect are briefly outlined and the application to problems of pharmaceutical interest is illustrated through the inclusion of appropriate examples.