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There is "a tsunami of green chemistry sweeping' our industry," says Robert Peoples, director at the American Chemistry Society's Green Chemistry Institute (GCI). "Apart from reducing the environmental burden of' a chemical process, there are some compelling' reasons for using green chemistry including' improvements to margins, savings ill processing' costs, and even competitive advantage," he says. Green chemistry is defined here as processes that reduce or eliminate the use or generation of hazardous substances while making products through sate and efficient manufacturing processes. GCI is one of' several groups, including the United Nations Environment Programme and the Green Chemistry Network (York, U.K.), that are encouraging the adoption of green chemistries in fine chemicals and beyond.
The term 'green chemistry' should ultimately be interchangeable with the term 'good chemistry,' as well as 'Quality by Design,' says Girish Malhotra, president of consulting' firm Epcot International (Pepper Pike, OH) and an industry veteran who has held senior positions at various U.S. fine chemical firms. "It's about how much you can reduce your waste and use of raw materials and solvents," Malhotra says. There are significant financial savings to be made in the manufacture of pharmaceuticals, a sector where 100 kg of raw materials often yield just 1 kg of active pharma ingredient (API).
Companies including Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) have extensive green chemistry programs, but the incentives for big pharma manufacturers to reduce costs are often fewer than those for contract fine chemical manufacturers, experts say. "Big' pharma companies want to get out of manufacturing," Malhotra says. "They don't have the time [before getting a drug to market] or the wherewithal to improve the chemistry. It's lint on their list of priorities," he says. This is particularly the case when it takes just 100 kg of API to make pharmaceuticals with a market value of $1 billion, Malhotra …