Our scientists and process engineers perform early-stage pharmaceutical-manufacturing process analysis to identify opportunities for waste minimization, recycling and process streamlining. This work has led to innovative catalysis chemistry, which significantly reduces the use of raw materials, the generation of both hazardous and nonhazardous waste, and the use of energy and water in pharmaceutical production.
We provide our scientists with both training and tools that support greener process design. In 2011, among many other efforts, we launched a solvent selection guide, implemented a Green Chemistry and Engineering eLearning module, and hosted the first Green Chemistry Symposium since the merger.
Merck’s 2011 Green Chemistry Symposium featured two keynote speakers:
Recently, we have increased our focus on biocatalysis innovation, such as enzyme immobilization techniques that enable the use of enzymes in a concentrated solvent environment. This innovation provides us with several advantages compared with soluble enzyme chemistry carried out in aqueous reaction environments, including:
Merck has also begun calculating our process mass intensity (PMI)the kilograms of raw materials used to produce one kilogram of pharmaceutically active productas an indicator of process efficiency. Measuring PMI is a standard approach being used by the ACS Green Chemistry Institute’s Pharmaceutical Roundtable. PMI is calculated for all steps in the process of making a product, including those conducted by external suppliers.
We are calculating PMI for our top 15 APIs (active pharmaceutical ingredients), which corresponds to more than 90 percent of products manufactured by volume. In addition, we are calculating the PMI of all compounds in development in order to drive process intensification and waste minimization prior to the launch of new products. Once we have established this baseline PMI, we plan to set improvement targets.
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 three times.
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 to pharmaceutical discovery and production processes.
For more information about our efforts to increase use of recovered solvents and prevent waste, click here.