September 3, 2015 by David Taylor

Hot on the heels of Volume 40 in Issues in Environmental Science and Technology comes Volume 41 dealing with the current status of the Pharmaceuticals in the Environment issue. Over the last fifteen years of involvement with this subject I have been struck by the lack of knowledge and awareness of both academics and regulators about the business and commercial aspects of the pharmaceutical industry. So I am delighted to have been given the opportunity by Ron Hester, one of the editors of the series, to write an opening chapter in this volume to redress this information deficit.

The pharmaceutical industry has a number of unusual characteristics, both in its structure and in the nature of its business operations, which are little known outside the industry but which materially affect the process of bringing new pharmaceuticals to the patient. The development of a new pharmaceutical is very time consuming, extremely costly and high risk, with very little chance of a successful outcome. The process of research and development is described, together with all its challenges, including environmental ones. The commercial realities and constraints of the business, together with its current problems, are discussed, followed by an exploration of some of the likely future commercial and technical developments in the business, including the development of a greener pharmacy.