July 13, 2015 by David Taylor


I have a chapter on “Environmental Regulations and the Green Chemist”in this new publication from the Royal Society of Chemistry. Note, in this publication it is possible to purchase individual chapters rather than having to buy the complete volume

I suspect that the link between the medicinal chemist working at the bench and the growing volumes of environmental regulation will seen extremely tenuous to most of the readers of this book, however I would urge them to persevere for three reasons. Firstly, green chemists, like all other scientists, are subject to a host of health, safety and environmental regulations at their place of work.

Secondly, despite the commonly held viewpoint that the only regulations that matter to the pharmaceutical industry are those derived from the medicines regulators such as the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) this is not the case and increasingly pharmaceuticals are coming to the attention of environmental regulators across the world.

Finally, decisions taken by medicinal chemists in the laboratory can have profound implications in the decades which follow should the drug on which they are working succeed in its clinical trials and finally enter the market. For example one drug company had a promising candidate drug under investigation which their medicinal chemists had synthesised using a simple chlorofluorocarbon as a starting material. However, this substance was subject to an international convention banning its manufacture and use and consequently taking the molecule into full scale production using this process route would have been fraught with difficulty, both in terms of obtaining consent for residual discharges, but more importantly identifying a supplier that was able and willing to provide the volumes of material required. Fortunately the candidate drug failed in its early clinical trials and the potential problems were avoided. Consequently all medicinal chemists should have a basic understanding of the environmental regulations that will impact on the drugs that they are developing when they finally reach the market.