Posted by Stephanie A. Smith, Ph.D. on Fri, May 24, 2013 @ 11:13 AM
It seems like the answer to this question should be obvious, right? Ends up it’s not, so I go into a more thorough explanation of why not in a free downloadable document that I drafted to help clear up some of my own confusion on the definition of a reference standard. I did this so that Beagle Bioproducts could offer products that would meet customer expectations at highly competitive pricing.
Let’s look at pricing for Microcystin-LR. At Beagle, we compared 100 µg units of Microcystin-LR from 5 vendors, and on average the price was $.75/µg (USD) for a dried preparation that was ≥95% pure as determined by HPLC analyses. The standard deviation on that price was ±$.27/µg, a variation that I found surprising as someone who has bought a lot of biochemicals in her time. But what really caught my eye was that a handful of companies additionally offered “analytical standards” that were sold as ~ 1 mL solutions of 10 µg microcystin/mL of methanol. The analytical standards could reach prices over 20X higher per µg than the other microcystin products that the same company sold! Of course, our investors said, “That’s what we want to sell!” But as the Chief Scientific Officer I needed to assess what was really different about these “analytical standards,” and whether it made sense for Beagle to offer them.
Surprisingly, it appeared in most cases that the only difference between “analytical standards” and the cheaper stuff was that someone took the extra step of preparing the methanol solution and performing QC on it via the same basic methods that are used to QC the cheaper product. So it’s pretty much the same stuff, and yes, we could do it at Beagle because our existing QC measures would be translatable for microcystin “analytical standards.” But that is only worthwhile if it is actually what our customers want. If you are in a position to help us decide that, and if you have an interest in winning some free Microcystin-LR, please let us know!
Your input will be taken into consideration this summer, when Beagle Bioproducts will offer “microcystin reference standards” through an online catalog. Here’s what you can expect of Beagle’s microcystin reference standards:
- They will be dried material.
- They will have concentration and purity (≥95%) verified by spectroscopy and HPLC.
- They will have been validated by LC/MS/MS in an independent laboratory.
Since we are new in this business, we added that last step to give our customers an added assurance regarding our products. We hope you will check us out when these products are available this summer, and in the meanwhile your participation in our survey can help guide us in serving our future customers, which we hope includes YOU!