Drug substances are at risk of contamination with N-nitrosamines (NAs), well-known carcinogenic agents, during synthesis processes and/or long-term storage. Therefore, in this study, we developed an efficient data-based screening approach to systemically assess marketed products and investigated its scalability for benefiting both regulatory agencies and pharmaceutical industries. A substructure-based screening method employing DataWarrior, an open-source software, was established to evaluate the risks of NA impurities in drug substances. Eight NA substructures containing susceptible amino sources for N-nitrosation have been identified as screening targets: dimethylamine (DMA), diethylamine, isopropylethylamine, diisopropylamine, N-methyl-2-pyrrolidone, dibutylamine, methylphenylamine, and tetrazoles. Our method detected 192 drug substances with a theoretical possibility of NA impurity, 141 of which had not been reported previously. In addition, the DMA moiety was significantly dominant among the eight NA substructures. The results were validated using data from the literature, and a high detection sensitivity of 0.944 was demonstrated. Furthermore, our approach has the advantage of scalability, owing to which 31 additional drugs with suspected NA-contaminated substructures were identified using the substructures of 1-methyl-4-piperazine in rifampin and 1-cyclopentyl-4-piperazine in rifapentine. In conclusion, the reported substructure-based approach provides an effective and scalable method for the screening and investigation of NA impurities in various pharmaceuticals and might be used as an ancillary technique in the field of pharmaceutical quality control for risk assessments of potential NA impurities.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.