On my way to find a cure for cancer – how to prepare paracetamol

[For this essay, we had to pick a drug and describe its production process. I think I didn’t really want to do it, hence the funny title (which i censored because it was inappropriate)]

I’ve chosen to describe the production process of paracetamol, a drug commonly used to treat pain symptoms like teeth or headaches as well as period cramps for instance.

The main chemical reaction happening during the process is the acetylation of a chemical compound called the 4-aminophenol in an aqueous medium. The preparation can be divided in four steps : reaction, separation, purification and control.

The first step is, without going into too many details, to make the 4-aminophenol react with ethanoic anhydride for about twenty minutes.

Then for the separation, you want to filter the obtain mixture with a Büchner funnel, dry the product entirely and weight it while it’s not yet purified.

At this point, you want to recrystallize the product in water, dry it and then weight it.

Finally and before being used, the medicine has to go through a quality control: we have to determine its melting point in order to compare it with theoretical values. This will allow us to say if the product is pure, or if there’s still some reagent mixed.

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