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Finding safer and more efficient ways to make our lifesaving, innovative medicines is good for business and contributes to our “Be Well” mission.

Our scientists and engineers are provided with training and tools that support and inspire greener process designs. Recently, we have increased our focus on biocatalysis innovations, which could potentially provide a more sustainable means of synthesis than more traditional chemistry approaches for manufacturing complex pharmaceutical compounds. Bioprocesses benefit from often superb selectivity and minimal by-product formation, thereby decreasing waste. Most importantly, biocatalysis processes typically run in one of the greenest of reaction solvents—water.

As part of our Green Chemistry program, we calculate the process mass intensity (PMI) of all new and high-production-volume pharmaceutically active products for human use. PMI reflects the number of kilograms of raw materials used to produce one kilogram of API (active pharmaceutical ingredient) as an indicator of process efficiency. Measuring PMI is a standard approach used by the American Chemical Society Green Chemistry Institute’s Pharmaceutical Roundtable to measure and benchmark process efficiency among member companies. This year Merck is establishing a public goal to reduce the PMI (weighted by mass) of our twelve highest-volume pharmaceutical products by 20 percent between 2009 and 2020.

Merck is also a founding member of the American Chemical Society’s Green Chemistry Institute® (ACS GCI) Pharmaceutical Roundtable, a partnership between the ACS GCI and member pharmaceutical companies. Roundtable members work together to create green chemistry tools and to support research on applying green chemistry and green engineering principles to pharmaceutical discovery and production processes. Since the establishment in 1996 of the annual Presidential Green Chemistry Award by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Merck is the only pharmaceutical company to have been recognized with three awards.

For more information about our efforts to increase use of recovered solvents and prevent waste, click here.

Last Updated July 22, 2013