Mass Spectrometry Tablet Image Mass Spectrometry Mobile Image
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Mass Spectrometry

State-of-the-art laboratories with a comprehensive range of fully GMP compliant spectroscopic equipment

Mass Spectrometry Tablet Image Mass Spectrometry Mobile Image
Mobile Gradient

Mass Spectrometry

State-of-the-art laboratories with a comprehensive range of fully GMP compliant spectroscopic equipment


State-of-the-art laboratories with a comprehensive range of fully GMP spectroscopic equipment.

Spectroscopy is critical within analytical drug development and is used to identify compounds and verify purities / impurities. 

With a wide range of sophisticated MS and NMR instruments, Almac provides method development and validation of methods for identification of unknowns, genotoxic impurities, elemental impurities and other requirements. Almac’s specialist team has over 15 years’ experience in solving clients’ problems.

Our scientists are highly experienced in the development of high quality assays using state-of-the-art LC-MS/MS technology – Applied Biosystems API 3000/4000 instrumentation which incorporates the automated reporting of data. This specialist analyst software is compliant with FDA 21 CFR Part 11.

We excel in the development and validation of routine and non-routine methods in a very wide range of matrices ( i.e. muscle, kidney, liver, fat, bone, bone marrow, synovial fluid, cardiac tissue, plasma, serum, whole blood, urine and faeces) and apply these methods in a GLP and GCP compliant environment.

Our expertise includes:

Elemental Impurities

There are stringent regulatory demands on the pharmaceutical industry regarding elemental impurities stipulating the control and documentation of elemental impurities in drug products, drug substances and excipients.

In compliance with USP <232 & 233>, EP (2.4.20) and ICH Q3D, all components, processes, packaging and final product must be risk assessed or tested for the presence of elemental impurities. Inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) is widely recognised as the most suitable technique to meet the requirements of these, and future, regulatory requirements.

Almac’s dedicated elemental impurities analysis team has already worked with many pharmaceutical companies to address the challenges of these regulatory guidelines and has invested in a state-of-the-art elemental impurities analysis laboratory which incorporates incorporate industry-leading ICP-MS instruments. An example of our work was published in the Journal of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Analysis.


Inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) technology is used within mass spectrometry to ionize a sample. Almac’s investment in a state-of-the-art analysis laboratory incorporates incorporate industry-leading ICP-MS instruments; Thermo iCAP RQ C2 and Agilent 7900, in addition to MARS 5 and 6 microwave digesters.

ID Unknowns (Investigational analysis)

Investigative analysis arises in all drug development programmes. It is essentially an exploration of the compounds present in a test article. Typically the aim of this investigation is to elucidate and characterise an unknown within a mixture, who’s presence is causing issues. Investigative analysis can be hard to describe, as by its very nature is complex . This is probably one of the most challenging aspects of NMR activities, but our very experienced team of spectrometry scientists and organic chemists are able to utilise a range of platforms to track and quantify unknowns.

Almac has extensive knowledge in testing wide ranges of compounds, including small molecules, peptides, biologics, drug products and excipients. The team has access to a huge catalogue of library methods, and intricate knowledge of methods for detection of metals, solvents, nitrosamines, and polymorphs. By drawing on this vast pool of knowledge we can quickly and efficiently narrow the search, and our state-of-the-art spectroscopic suite, and highly trained scientists can pin down the ID of an unknown using techniques such as NMR, LCMS, and MSMS to provide full structural elucidation when required.

Our spectroscopy expertise combined with in-house synthetic chemistry knowledge can help determine the likely source of impurities. We also have the instrumentation and synthetic capabilities to isolate or manufacture samples of impurities that can be used as reference standards. Being part of an extensive discovery, development and manufacturing organisation, we know the challenges which can arise and are on hand to tackle these with you at all times.


Impurities such as N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) have been highlighted by the US FDA, EMA and other regulatory authorities as an area for concern as they are probable human carcinogens.

Almac have responded to regulatory guidance and offer laboratory drug testing to detect levels of NDMA and related impurities within our mass spectrometry laboratory. Our expert team have successfully performed testing on a number of APIs and Finished Products as per FDA method FY20-006-DPA-S_LCMSMS 10/17/2019 to establish levels of NDMA. Read our paper to find out more.

Genotoxic impurities

Critical to the drug development process, is the ability to identify and quantify levels of Genotoxic impurities. These levels can play a major role in the quality and ultimately the safety of both drug substance and drug product. Confirmation of these levels and subsequent regulatory compliance is achieved using the following techniques:

  • LC-MS
  • HPLC
  • GC and GC-MS

2D LCMS Systems

Two-dimensional chromatography can be used for the identification of unknown impurities found during release testing or stability studies. Enhanced separation is achieved using 2 separate HPLC columns with different elution conditions.

Almac typically employ this technique where the original HPLC method utilises a non-volatile buffer (such as phosphate) that cannot be directly injected into a MS detector.  This means that client chromatography can be reproduced on the first system and the unknown peak of interest can be diverted to the second system utilising a MS compatible mobile phase for MS or MS/MS analysis.

This saves time redeveloping the client method with MS compatible methods and ensures that elution order is maintained.  Impurities can be identified faster and without the complexity of changing mobile phase composition.

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