The idea of green chemistry was initially developed as a response to the Pollution Prevention Act of 1990, which declared that US national policy should eliminate pollution by improved design including cost-effective changes in products, processes, use of raw materials, and recycling instead of treatment and disposal.
The 12 Principles of Green Chemistry were published in 1998, providing the new field with a clear set of guidelines for further development.
In the last 10 years, national and international networks have proliferated, special issues devoted to green chemistry have appeared in major journals, and green chemistry concepts have continued to gain traction. A clear sign of this was provided by the citation for the 2005 Nobel Prize for Chemistry awarded to Chauvin, Grubbs, and Schrock, which commended their work as “a great step forward for green chemistry”.
In recent years, pharma industry has been exploring the potential of green chemistry in drug manufacturing. This sector is responsible for producing life-saving drugs and has the potential to make a significant impact on global sustainability efforts by adopting green chemistry practices. Thus, implementing green chemistry in pharma manufacturing can reduce waste and pollution, improve efficiency, and promote sustainability and social responsibility.
Furthermore, recent developments in adopting green catalysts, enzymes, have provided breakthrough advantages over traditional chemistry by being able to selectively catalyse the reaction, save costs and time as well as reducing impurities and waste, hazardous byproducts.
It is noteworthy that the Nobel prize in chemistry in 2018 was given to enzyme engineering highlighting the importance of its role in reducing pollution and environmental impact.
Hence, as the demand for sustainable pharma continues to grow, green chemistry and more specifically, enzymes will play an increasingly important role in the future of pharma manufacturing.
Here’s how green chemistry will transform the future of pharma manufacturing:
Reducing waste and pollution: Pharma manufacturing is energy- and resource-intensive, often resulting in large amounts of waste and pollution. Traditional methods of drug synthesis typically rely on hazardous chemicals, which can pose a significant risk to both human health and the environment. Thus, green chemistry offers an alternative approach, utilising safer and more sustainable materials and processes. Using enzymes as catalysts instead of typical chemical catalysts is one example of a green chemistry method in pharma manufacturing. Enzymes are biodegradable and pose minimal environmental impact, while increasing drug production selectivity and efficiency. Hence, green chemistry can dramatically minimise the environmental effect of pharma manufacturing by lowering the usage of hazardous chemicals and minimising waste.
Improving efficiency and reducing costs: Green chemistry can enhance the effectiveness of pharmaceutical manufacturing processes and decrease waste as well as pollution. It can simplify drug synthesis and reduce production time and cost by utilising new technologies and innovative methods. Furthermore, continuous flow chemistry is an example of a green chemistry technology that enables faster and more efficient drug manufacturing. It uses small reactors to conduct continuous reactions, resulting in shorter reaction times, higher yields, and less waste. Thus, green chemistry can help make drugs more accessible and affordable for patients by lowering the time and cost of drug manufacturing.
Promoting sustainability and social responsibility: Green chemistry in pharma manufacturing benefits not only the environment and industry, but can also encourage social responsibility and sustainability. In the modern-day world, as consumers are becoming more aware of the environmental impact of products, they are seeking more environmentally friendly alternatives. Thus, by adopting green chemistry practices, pharma companies can demonstrate their commitment to sustainability and responsible manufacturing. Furthermore, green chemistry can aid in promoting sustainability throughout the supply chain. Therefore, pharma businesses can encourage suppliers to adopt more sustainable practices by employing more sustainable materials and minimising waste. This has the potential to spread positivity throughout the sector, boosting sustainability and social responsibility.
Challenges and opportunities: While chemistry offers many benefits to pharma manufacturing, there are also challenges to its adoption. One significant challenge is the need for investment in new technologies and equipment. Green chemistry requires new and innovative technologies, which can require high upfront costs. However, as the demand for sustainable pharma grows, the long-term benefits of green chemistry will outweigh the initial investment.
Another challenge is the need for regulatory approval. Green chemistry practices and technologies may require regulatory approval before being implemented in pharma manufacturing. This can slow down the adoption process, but it is necessary to ensure the safety and efficacy of pharma products.
Green chemistry paves the way for sustainable pharma manufacturing!
Green chemistry represents an exciting and innovative approach to pharma manufacturing. The adoption of green chemistry practices can lead to a reduction in waste and pollution, improvements in efficiency, and promotion of sustainability and social responsibility throughout the industry. Even though there are challenges to its adoption, the long-term benefits of green chemistry outweigh the initial costs. Furthermore, as the demand for sustainable pharma continues to grow, the pharma industry can significantly impact global sustainability efforts by adopting green chemistry practices. Thus, the transformation of pharma manufacturing towards green chemistry is essential for meeting sustainability goals and improving public health by ensuring the production of safe and effective medicines.