What Is Compound Management?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Compound management is the organization and control of a library of pharmaceutical compounds. These can include chemicals as well as biological samples. All of them need to be tested to determine their properties and activities to determine if they are suitable for drug development. Materials with no current or known applications may be filed for later research, in case they turn out to be useful in the future. Large pharmaceutical companies can have substantial collections of samples for research, requiring considerable coordination of their libraries.


One issue with compound management, as with libraries of other materials, is the development of an effective cataloging method. Materials need to be stored in a logical way, with clear labels and tagging to make them easy to identify. This information is stored in a database to make it possible to research materials and quickly find out where they are. Some facilities have an automated component, like a robot that retrieves samples, requiring additional systems integration.

Another concern is climate control. Some compounds are extremely fragile, while others may be more robust, but they all need to be stored in controlled conditions. This inhibits bacterial growth, prevents spoilage, and reduces the risk that a compound will be inactive when it’s taken out for evaluation and research. Personnel responsible for compound management may need to monitor climate control systems in addition to periodically testing samples for integrity to make sure everything in storage is still safe.

As researchers call for new compounds to work with, staff can determine which should be prioritized and subjected to assay on the basis of compound management protocols. In chemical assays, materials are screened to develop a detailed profile of their construction and properties. This helps researchers determine how they might work in the body and provides opportunities to identify compounds with pharmaceutical applications. From initial assay to release on the market, a drug may be in development for 10 years or more.

Lengthy lead times on drug development are a cause for concern at some companies. They want to keep drugs in constant development so they can have a steady supply of new releases. Streamlining compound management, testing, and development can speed the time between the discovery of a useful compound and its release on the open market. This also increases patient access to valuable medications, including the next generation of drugs for diseases that may not be responding to existing treatment options.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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