Earth Day provides us all with an opportunity to consider the role each of us can play in protecting the Earth’s natural resources. The nation’s innovative biopharmaceutical companies spend substantial time and resources on identifying ways to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of not just their R&D processes but also their manufacturing processes with an increased focus on green chemistry. Forthcoming reports from Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development and Deloitte describe green manufacturing practices among biopharmaceutical companies large and small. The biopharmaceutical industry has long been committed to environmentally responsibility and many publish corporate responsibility reports that provide information not just on their impact on the environment but also the steps they are taking to reduce their carbon footprint and environmental impact.
Here are just a few of the ways in which biopharmaceutical companies are becoming more green: a number of companies like Celgene, GSK, and AbbVie have established targets for reducing energy use and water consumption and developed a range of new methods to reduce the emission of green-house gases. Similarly, AbbVie has implemented a range of facility- specific as well as company-wide initiatives to reduce waste associated with manufacturing while also achieving higher levels of efficiency and cost savings. More and more companies are retrofitting and building new facilities to reduce waste production, improve resource and waste management, and lower operating costs—companies have placed emphasis on building more efficient facilities to reduce their carbon footprint. As just one example, Celgene’s San Diego facility has been certified as a green building achieving Leadership in Green and Environmental Design accreditation. Eco-friendly facilities like this can play an important role in conserving our natural resources.
The development and adoption of green chemistry approaches has become the norm rather than the exception. BMS, which was one of the pioneers in replacing many solvents with greener alternatives, introduced a green chemistry scorecard to continue to measure its progress. GSK developed the first green solvent selection guide to maximize resource efficiency, reduce impact on the environment, and increasingly lower manufacturing costs. And finally, by applying a biocatalytic process in the manufacture of one of its medicines, Merck was able to reduce waste by 19% earning the company the Presidential Green Chemistry Award.
Biopharmaceutical companies’ commitment to finding new ways to reduce waste, conserve energy, and adopt greener alternatives in the R&D and manufacturing processes isn’t just good for business it’s good for the environment.
Anne McDonald Pritchett, PhD Anne McDonald Pritchett, Ph.D., is Senior Vice President, Policy and Research, at the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA). Her primary focus is overseeing the development of legislative and policy analysis and research studies on a range of issues impacting innovative biopharmaceutical companies including intellectual property issues, FDA policy issues, and other issue areas impacting the environment for innovation. In addition to her public policy work, she and her team lead the development of a range of educational and other materials focused on explaining the R&D process, the value of innovation, and the role and contributions of the innovative biopharmaceutical industry.