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Manufacture Small Molecules

Smarter Synthesis

Green thinking sometimes seems a long way off for those of us in medicinal chemistry, whose primary aim is to find drug candidates by utilizing chemical optimization. It can be hard to gauge an appropriate effort-to-benefit ratio from an environmental point of view. But in fact, there is much that we can do to promote greener working practices in our labs, particularly in terms of waste.

To bring green thinking to our medicinal chemistry labs, in 2014 we carried out an assessment of our activities and held a series of workshops on improving sustainability. Annual in-house data on waste and solvents were collected; for example, from electronic laboratory notebooks. The solvents used were checked against the solvent guide developed by the CHEM21 consortium to assess their environmental impact. Data collected on waste were compared to the number of test compounds synthesized and the scale of repeated batches. We found we were producing roughly 12 kg of waste per gram of test compound, and that 10 percent of that waste contained halogen, which is particularly damaging to the environment.

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About the Author

Leena Otsumaa

Leena Otsomaa is Head of Medicinal Chemistry at Orion, Espoo, Finland.

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