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Title:
RACEMIZATION PROCESS FOR OPTICALLY ACTIVE CARBOXYLIC ACIDS OR SALTS OR ESTERS THEREOF
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/1997/047572
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
Optically active carboxylic acids, salts or esters, such as the profen-type compounds, are racemized in the presence by nitrogenous bases such as methylbenzyl-amine by heating an aqueous solution of such optically active compounds at a temperature of from 80 �C to 200 �C in the presence of a catalytically effective amount of an alkali metal hydroxide. The process not only enables conversion of inactive or undesirable enantiomers of compounds such as Naproxen or Ibuprofen into a usable, desirable enatiomers in an efficient and economical manner, but avoids conversion of the nitrogenous base into amide. Thus the deleterious consequences of amide formation are avoided.

Inventors:
Young, Robert E.
Phan, Hao V.
Manimaran, Thanikavelu Zumstein Ronald C.
Application Number:
PCT/US1997/009817
Publication Date:
December 18, 1997
Filing Date:
June 10, 1997
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
ALBEMARLE CORPORATION.
International Classes:
C07B55/00; C07C51/487; C07C55/00; C07C59/68; C07C67/333; (IPC1-7): C07B55/00; C07C51/487; C07C59/68
Foreign References:
US5278338A
US3686183A
EP0163094A2
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS
1. A method for racemizing one of the enantiomers, or an enantiometrically enriched mixture, of an optically active compound of the formula: R^2R3CCOOZ ( I ) where R1, R2, and R3 are different from each other and are selected from the group consisting of a hydrogen atom, hydrocarbyl groups, hydrocarbyloxy groups, hydro carbylthio groups, hydrocarbylcarbonyl, halohydrocarbyl groups, hydrocarbyloxy hydrocarbyl groups, heteroaromatic groups, and halogen atoms, with the proviso that none or only one of R1, R2, and R3 can be a halogen atom, and where Z is a hydrogen atom, an alkali metal cation, a hydrocarbyl group, a cation of a nitrogenous base or a combination of two or more of the foregoing, said method comprising: heating an aqueous solution of the optically active compound and nitrogenous base in whatever form they may exist in the solution at a temperature of from 80 °C to 200 °C in the presence of a catalytically effective amount of free alkali metal hydroxide in whatever form it may exist in the solution for a time sufficient to racemize said optically active compound in whatever form it may exist while in solution.
2. A method according to claim 1 wherein Z is a sodium and/or potassium cation.
3. A method according to claim 2 wherein the catalytically effective amount of free sodium hydroxide and/or potassium hydroxide in said solution is in the range of up to 1.0 mole per mole of said optically active compound present in said solution.
4. A method according to claim 2 wherein the catalytically effective amount of free sodium hydroxide and/or potassium hydroxide in said solution is in the range of 0.2 to 0.4 mole per mole of said optically active compound present in said solution. 5.
5. A method according to claim 1 wherein R1 is a hydrogen atom, R2 is alkyl, and R3 is alkylaryl, alkoxyaryl or haloaryl and said nitrogenous base is methylbenzy lamine .
6. A method according to claim 5 wherein Z is a hydrogen atom or a sodium cation or a methylbenzylamine cation and said alkali metal hydroxide is sodium hydroxide.
7. A method according to claim 5 wherein Z is a hydrogen atom or a potassium cation or a methylbenzylamine cation and said alkali metal hydroxide is potassium hydroxide.
8. A method according to claim 6 wherein said catalytically effective amount of free sodium hydroxide is in the range of 0.2 to 0.4 mole per mole of said optically active compound present in said solution.
9. A method according to claim 1 wherein said temperature is in the range of 100°C to 170°C.
10. A method according to claim 1 wherein said temperature is in the range of 120°C to 140°C.
11. A method for racemizing 2(6methoxy2naphthyl)propionic acid, salt thereof, hydrolyzable ester thereof, or combination of any two or more of the foregoing, in which less than 50% thereof is the (S)enantiomeric form thereof, which process comprises heating an aqueous solution of (i) said 2(6methoxy2 naphthyl)propionic acid, salt thereof, hydrolyzable ester thereof, or combination of any two or more of the foregoing, and (ii) amine in whatever form they may exist in said solution at a temperature of from 80 °C to 200 °C in the presence of a catalytically effective amount of free alkali metal hydroxide in whatever form it may exist in said solution, for a time sufficient to racemize the 2(6methoxy2naphthyl)propionic acid, salt thereof, hydrolyzable ester thereof, or combination of any two or more of the foregoing, in whatever form it or they may exist in said solution.
12. A method according to claim 11 wherein said amine is methylbenzyl amine.
13. A method according to claim 11 wherein said alkali metal hydroxide in said solution is sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide, or both; wherein the catalytically effective amount of sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide, or both is in the range of up to 1.0 mole of free sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide, or both, per mole of the 2(6methoxy2naphthyl)propionic acid content of said solution in whatever form it exists in said solution; and wherein said temperature is in the range of from 100°C to 170°C.
14. A method according to claim 13 wherein said catalytically effective amount is in the range of from 0.2 to 0.4 mole of free sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide, or both, per mole of the 2(6methoxy2naphthyl)propionic acid content of said solution in whatever form it exists in said solution.
15. A method according to claim 14 wherein said temperature is in the range of 120°C to 140 °C and said amine is methylbenzylamine.
Description:
RACEMIZATION PROCESS FOR OPTICALLY ACTIVE CARBOXYLIC ACIDS OR SALTS OR ESTERS THEREOF

This invention relates to a process for converting an enantiomeric form of certain aliphatic carboxylic acids into a racemic mixture of enantiomers. This invention more specifically relates to racemization of one of the enantiomers of profen-type carboxylic acids, salts or esters. Profen-types of compounds are typically defined as propionic acids (or esters) bearing at least one aromatic substituent, usually a- to the carboxylic function. These acids have an asymmetric carbon atom (the carbon atom adjacent to the carbonyl group) that typically produces a racemic mixture of these acids, i.e., a mixture of both the (+) and (-) or dextro and levo rotary forms. For example, Ibuprofen [(2-(4-isobutylphenyl)- propionic acid)], a commercially and pharmaceutically important chemical, is typically produced and sold as the racemic mixture. Other profen drugs are also produced as racemates and administered in this form. However, it is known that the physiological utility of the racemic mixtures is almost exclusively focused on one enantiomer, the other having either no effect or even diminishing the effect of the active enantiomer. Thus the S(+) form of Ibuprofen is active in reducing inflammation and in providing an analgesic effect. See, for example, U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,851,444 and 4,877,620. The R(-) enantiomer is devoid of activity for these indications, although it is, in part, converted in vivo into the S(+) compound. Other profen pharmaceuticals, e.g., 2-(6-methoxy-2- naphthyl)propionic acid (Naproxen), are only prescribed as the single enantiomer. Disposal of the undesired enantiomer is not environmentally or economically desirable. Thus an efficient method of converting the inactive or undesirable enantiomer of these carboxylic acids into the other usable, desirable enantiomer is an commercially important objective.

U.S. Pat. No. 3,686,183 to Dyson describes the racemization of α-substituted predominately d- or 1-arylacetic acids by heating with an optically active nitrogenous base at a suitable temperature for a suitable time until racemization occurs.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,221,765 to Patil et al. describes the racemization of optically active carboxylic acids or esters thereof by heating an aqueous solution of the optically active carboxylic acid or ester with a catalytic amount of an aliphatic, aromatic or mixed

aliphatic-aromatic tertiary amine for a time sufficient to racemize the acid or ester. In the Examples of the patent the process is conducted in the presence of S-methylbenzyl amine. Loss of Ibuprofen due to amide formation is experienced.

Amide formation is deleterious for several reasons. First of all, amide formation results in loss of portions of both chiral amine and chiral acid content of the reaction mixture. Besides being wasteful, such loss is costly as both such materials are expensive. Secondly, the amide products are relatively high molecular weight materials which readily form solid deposits which tend to accumulate in the reaction system and storage vessels and which can cause pluggage of lines or other similar operational problems when conducting the process on a commercial scale. Thirdly, the accumula¬ tion of such deposits necessitates purging the system of such solids, and disposal of the waste products in a suitable manner, operations which add to the plant operating costs.

It would be desirable to provide a novel, commercially practicable process whereby the inactive or undesirable enantiomer of these carboxylic acids may be converted into the other usable, desirable enantiomer, especially if the conversion of one enantiomer of these carboxylic acids into the other enantiomer could be conducted in an efficient and economical manner without undesirable amide formation. This invention makes it possible to achieve these objectives. This invention provides a method for racemizing one of the enantiomers, or an enantiometrically enriched mixture, of an optically active compound of the formula:

R i R^CCOOZ ( I ) where R 1 , R 2 , and R 3 are different from each other and are selected from the group consisting of a hydrogen atom, hydrocarbyl groups, hydrocarbyloxy groups, hydro- carbylthio groups, hydrocarbylcarbonyl, halohydrocarbyl groups, hydrocarbyloxy- hydrocarbyl groups, heteroaromatic groups, and halogen atoms, with the proviso that none or only one of R 1 , R 2 , and R 3 can be a halogen atom, and where Z is a hydrogen atom, an alkali metal cation, a hydrocarbyl group or a cation of a nitrogenous base such as an amine cation, or a combination of two or more of the foregoing. For convenience, compounds of formula (I) are sometimes referred herein as "Carboxylic Compounds" . The method comprises heating an aqueous solution of the Carboxylic Compound and a nitrogenous base (in whatever form they may exist while in the

solution) at a temperature of from 80°C to 200 C C in the presence of a catalytically effective amount of a free alkali metal hydroxide (in whatever form it may exist while in the solution) for a time sufficient to racemize the Carboxylic Compound. In this process the original enantiomer, or enantiometrically enriched mixture, of the Carboxylic Compound(s) is racemized without measurable conversion of amine to amide.

The process is applicable to racemization of any original mixture correspond¬ ing to the above formula. The addition of the alkali metal hydroxide (or alkali metal oxide, which forms the hydroxide in situ) and application of heat results in neutrali- zation of free carboxyl groups, if any, by alkali metal cations, the displacement of the amine cation by alkali metal cation and/or the saponification of carboxylic ester groups (if a hydrolyzable ester was used). In all cases the resultant mixture will contain amine, and a catalytic quantity of "free" alkali metal hydroxide catalyst, i.e., an amount of alkali metal hydroxide over and above that consumed in neutralizing free carboxylic acid groups, displacing amine cations, and/or saponifying ester groups (whichever is applicable by virtue of the composition of the original enantiomer, or enantiometrically enriched mixture, of Carboxylic Compound(s) charged to the reaction vessel for racemization).

One of the enantiomeric forms (or an enantiomerically enriched mixture) of such carboxylic acids, esters or salts is used as a starting material and is subjected to the process of this invention whereby conversion of one enantiomer to the other is effected. The process functions to achieve a racemic mixture of the enantiomers, i.e., it is a racemization process.

The carboxylic acids, salts and esters useful in the process of this invention have the formula (I) above. Preferably, Z in formula (I) is a hydrogen atom, an alkali metal cation (most preferably sodium or potassium), a C, to C 6 linear or branched alkyl group, or a cation of a nitrogenous base such as a univalent amine cation. Likewise, in formula (I), R 1 , R 2 , and R 3 are different and preferably are selected from among the following univalent groups: a hydrogen atom; Q to C 6 linear or branched alkyl (e.g., methyl or ethyl); Cj to C 6 linear or branched haloalkyl (e.g., chloro- methyl, fluoromethyl, chloroethyl, fluoroethyl, difluoromethyl, trifluoromethyl);

aralkyl (e.g., benzyl, phenethyl); cycloalkyl (e.g., cyclopropyl, cyclobutyl, cyclopentyl, cyclohexyl); alkyl-substituted cycloalkyl (e.g., methylcyclo-hexyl, dimethylcyclopentyl); C 6 to C lg aryl (e.g., phenyl, 1-naphthyl, 2-naphthyl, 2- biphenylyl, 3-biphenylyl, 4-biphenylyl, anthryl, fluoryl, tetrahydronaphthyl); alkyl- substituted aryl (e.g., tolyl, xylyl, trimethylphenyl, butylphenyl, and especially isobutylphenyl, 4-ethyl-l-naphthyl, l,6-dimethyl-2-naphthyl, 4'-butyl-4-biphenylyl, 6- ethyl-2-biphenylyl); aryl substituted with Q to C 4 alkylthio, or C, to C 4 alkoxy, or cyano or halo, such as fluoro or chloro, especially fluoro-substituted biphenylyl groups; C, to C 6 linear or branched alkoxy (e.g. , methoxy, ethoxy, propoxy, or butoxy); C 6 to C 18 aryloxy (e.g., phenoxy or phenoxy substituted with, for example, methyl, dimethyl, butyl or isobutyl, or phenoxy substituted with C, to C 4 alkylthio, or C, to C 4 alkoxy, or cyano or halo; C, to C 6 alkythio (e.g., methylthio, ethylthio); C 3 to C 8 cycloalkylthio; C 6 to C lg arylthio; C 6 to C ]g arylcarbonyl (e.g., benzoyl); C 4 to C 8 cycloalkenyl (e.g., cyclopentenyl, cyclohexenyl); halo (e.g., fluoro or chloro); and C 4 to C π heteroaryl (e.g., furyl, pyrrolyl, thienyl).

One group of preferred compounds of formula (I) are those in which R 1 , R 2 and Z are as previously defined, and R 3 is a biphenylyl group (especially where one phenyl group is in the 4-position of the other phenyl group, i.e., a 4-biphenylyl or p- biphenylyl group) wherein either ring is, or both rings are, substituted by (i) C, to C 4 linear or branched alkyl, (ii) C, to C 4 linear or branched alkoxy, and/or (iii) halo.

Compounds of formula (I) in which R\ R 2 and Z are as previously defined, and R 3 is a naphthyl group (either 1-naphthyl or 2-naphthyl or both) wherein at least the ring (and most preferably the only ring) other than the ring to which the asymmetric carbon atom is bonded is substituted by (i) C, to C 4 linear or branched alkyl, (ii) C, to C 4 linear or branched alkoxy, and/or (iii) halo, is another group of preferred starting materials.

Still another group of preferred compounds of formula (I) are those in which R 1 , R 2 and Z are as previously defined, and R 3 is a phenyl group wherein the ring is substituted by (i) C, to C 4 linear or branched alkyl, (ii) C, to C 4 linear or branched alkoxy, and/or (iii) halo.

Compounds of formula (I) wherein R 1 , R 2 and Z are as previously defined,

and R 3 is a phenyl group substituted by a C 7 to C lg aroyl group (especially a benzoyl group) constitutes yet another group of preferred starting materials.

Practice of this invention enables improvements in overall synthesis procedures which can be used for producing such finished end products as 2-(6- methoxy-2-naphthyl)propionic acid (also known as Naproxen), 2-(4-isobutylphenyl)- propionic acid (also known as Ibuprofen), 2-(3-fluoro-4-biphenylyl)propionic acid (also known as Flurbiprofen), 2-(3-benzoylphenyl)-propionic acid (also known as Ketoprofen).

The process of this invention is conducted in an aqueous medium at a temperature of from 80°C to 200°C, preferably in the range of 100°C to 170°C, and most preferably at 120°C to 140 °C. The optimum temperature conditions depend to some extent upon the particular optically active material being used in the racemiza¬ tion process. If necessary, this can readily be determined by conducting a few pilot experiments with the particular material to be racemized. The alkali metal hydroxide (or precursor thereof) in the form as introduced into the mixture to be subjected to racemization pursuant to this invention can be any alkali metal hydroxide or alkali metal oxide. Preferred from the cost-effectiveness standpoint are sodium hydroxide, potassium hydroxide, sodium oxide, potassium oxide and any mixture or combination of these. When they are in the presence of water, the oxide is converted to hydroxide and ionization by the water will take place.

Thus during the reaction the catalyst is in whatever form into which it has been converted as a natural consequence of being introduced into the system to be racemized. A catalytically effective amount of the alkali metal hydroxide or oxide is introduced into the mixture. To avoid erroneous interpretations, let it be understood that the word "introduced" is not used in a limitive sense to mean that the catalyst must be added to the mixture. Rather "introduced" is used in the ordinary sense to mean that the materials being used are brought together. How the materials are gotten into the racemization mixture and whatever form they assume when in the mixture are both immaterial, so long as they get there to perform in accordance with this invention.

Water is the principal diluent used in the process, and ordinarily it is not

necessary to introduce any other diluent or solvent. However if an ancillary diluent or solvent is employed it should be miscible with water at the concentration employed, and should be inert to the reactants and not cause precipitation of the alkali metal base introduced into the system. A catalytic quantity of the alkali metal hydroxide or precursor thereof is introduced into the mixture in which racemization is to be effected, such quantity being an amount at least sufficient to cause, under the racemization conditions to be used, conversion of at least a portion of undesired enantiomer into desired enantiomer. In general, if a portion of the enantiomer (s) to be racemized is initially present in the system in acid form and the remainder of the enantiomer(s) is present as amine salt(s), the amount of alkali metal base introduced into the reaction mixture is in excess of the amount theoretically consumed in displacing amine cations and in neutralizing the free acids present in the system. If the enantiomer(s) to be racemized is/are initially present in the system only in the form of salts of amine, the amount of alkali metal base introduced into the reaction mixture is in excess of the amount theoretically consumed in displacing amine and forming the alkali metal salt. Similarly, if the enantiomers to be racemized are initially present in the system in ester form, the amount of alkali metal base introduced into the reaction mixture is in excess of the amount theoretically consumed in saponifying the esters. Generally speaking, the reaction mixtures formed and used in the practice of this invention will contain on a weight basis from 10 to 50% of acid, from 0 up to 25% of base, a catalytic amount of alkali metal hydroxide in the range of up to 25 % , with the balance (to 100%) being water.

In the racemization of 2-(6-methoxy-2-naphthyl)propionic acid enantiomers and similar compounds, the presence of too much free alkali metal hydroxide such as sodium hydroxide and/or potassium hydroxide can result in hydrolysis of the alkoxy group under the racemization temperature conditions. Thus, when conducting the process using 2-(6-methoxy-2-naphthyl)propionic acid enantiomers or other compounds of formula (I) above that can be degraded under the racemization conditions by exposure to excessive amounts of free alkali metal hydroxide, the catalytically effective amount of free sodium hydroxide and/or potassium hydroxide in

the racemization solution is in the range of up to 1.0 mole per mole (chemical equivalent) of optically active enantiomers present in such solution. Preferably the amount of such free sodium and/or potassium hydroxide in the racemization solution is in the range of 0.2 to 0.4 mole per mole or chemical equivalent of optically active enantiomers present in such solution. A typical Naproxen reaction mixture will contain 30 to 40% , e.g., 35% , Naproxen (as Naproxen sodium); 2 to 5%, e.g. , 3%, methylbenzyl amine; 1 to 3%, e.g., 1.5%, sodium hydroxide, and the balance to 100% being essentially water.

It is desirable to agitate the reaction mixture to ensure intimate contact among the components of the system. Preferably the racemization is conducted in a closed reaction vessel under autogenous pressure. Reaction times will generally vary inversely with reaction temperature, but should be selected to afford sufficient time for the racemization to proceed to the extent desired within the capabilities of the process under the set of circumstances involved. The racemization mixture will usually be maintained at the selected temperature(s) for a period in the range of from

1 to 24 hours.

Optically active nitrogenous bases co-present in the racemization solution are usually used in earlier stages of processing are thus normally are carried along from the earlier stages of processing. Among such asymmetric optically active nitrogenous bases are, for example, those referred to in U.S. Pat. No. 3,686,183 to Dyson, especially at Column 5, lines 9-27 thereof, incorporated herein by reference. A preferred chiral amine is methylbenzylamine.

The following examples illustrate the practice and advantages of this invention. EXAMPLE 1

A reaction mixture containing a relatively low content of the (S)-enantiomeric form of 2-(6-methoxy-2-naphthyl)propionic acid (Naproxen) was formed by charging 800 grams of racemic Naproxen, 81.5 grams of sodium hydroxide 1000 grams of water and 1420 grams of toluene to a 5-liter flask. While stirring this mixture at a temperature of 55 °C, 175 grams of (S)-methylbenzylamine was added over a period of 35 minutes. After 4 more hours of stirring the resultant mixture at 55° C, the

aqueous and organic phases were separated by decantation, and the organic phase was washed twice with 1 -liter portions of water. The original aqueous cut and these two water washes were combined and found to contain 37.5% in the (S)-enantiomeric form. From this combined aqueous mixture, 2006 grams of water was stripped off. To conduct the racemization pursuant to this invention, the bottoms remaining from the stripping step were charged to a 2-liter autoclave containing 41 grams of sodium hydroxide, and the resultant mixture was stirred at 130°C for 15 hours. The Naproxen portion from this racemization was found to contain 50% in the (S)-enantiomeric form. It was also determined that no amide formation occurred during the racemization operation.

EXAMPLE 2 The procedure of Example 1 is repeated except that the racemization temperature is 120°C and the racemization operation is conducted for 23 hours.

EXAMPLE 3 The procedure of Example 1 is again repeated except that the racemization operation is conducted for 3.5 hours at 140°C.

It is to be understood that terms referring anywhere in the specification or claims hereof to a chemical compound or substance, whether the term is used in the singular or plural, are used in the sense that it is a substance having (A) the composition specified herein that it would have if it were not already in a solution or in admixture with something else specified herein, or (B) the composition specified herein that it has prior to introduction into the mixture being formed or used. Thus in the case of (A), prior to unification and/or treatment with one or more other materials at a time before being acted upon in the present process, the ingredient or component would have been in the chemical form specified. In the case of (B), prior to mixing with one or more other materials, the ingredient or component is in the chemical form specified. It matters not what chemical changes, transformations and/or complexations, if any, take place in the mixture or medium used as such changes,

transformations and/or complexations are the natural result of bringing the specified ingredients or components together and subjecting the resultant system to the conditions specified herein. It is also to be clearly understood that since the reactions described herein are for the most part conducted in aqueous systems, ionization, especially of inorganic materials such as alkali metal hydroxide, will occur. Thus the term "free alkali metal hydroxide" as used herein does not mean or imply that the compound exists in the non-ionized form of alkali metal hydroxide. Rather the term is used to refer to the amount of alkali metal hydroxide that is theoretically present in the solution (e.g., as alkali metal cations and hydroxyl anions) over and above that theoretically necessary to convert into alkali metal cations all of Z of formula (I) above that is not in theory already alkali metal cation. Thus "free" refers to a theoretically calculated or calculatable quantity and not to a physical or chemical state or form. In addition it is to be understood and appreciated that the alkali metal hydroxide can be used as such in forming the racemization solution (e.g., as by adding it to the aqueous medium) or it can be formed in situ in the racemization solution (e.g., as by adding alkali metal oxide to the aqueous medium). In either case the resultant alkali metal hydroxide will be ionized when in solution, and the resultant ions will then do whatever they will normally do in the selected system of the type referred to herein under the selected conditions of the type described herein. Further, even though the claims hereinafter may refer to components or compounds in the present tense ("comprises", and/or "is"), such reference does not denote that the component or compound must presently exist in that form. It may be ionized or otherwise transformed by virtue of the material(s) with which it is associated in accordance with the claim, and such material(s) in turn may be transformed by virtue of the material(s) with which it is or they are associated in accordance with the claim.

Therefore, such reference in the present tense merely serves as a way of referring to the substance when in its ordinary state. Those skilled in the art will, of course, readily understand all such matters.