Applications of Fluorine in Medicinal Chemistry

J Med Chem. 2015 Nov 12;58(21):8315-59. doi: 10.1021/acs.jmedchem.5b00258. Epub 2015 Jul 22.


The role of fluorine in drug design and development is expanding rapidly as we learn more about the unique properties associated with this unusual element and how to deploy it with greater sophistication. The judicious introduction of fluorine into a molecule can productively influence conformation, pKa, intrinsic potency, membrane permeability, metabolic pathways, and pharmacokinetic properties. In addition, (18)F has been established as a useful positron emitting isotope for use with in vivo imaging technology that potentially has extensive application in drug discovery and development, often limited only by convenient synthetic accessibility to labeled compounds. The wide ranging applications of fluorine in drug design are providing a strong stimulus for the development of new synthetic methodologies that allow more facile access to a wide range of fluorinated compounds. In this review, we provide an update on the effects of the strategic incorporation of fluorine in drug molecules and applications in positron emission tomography.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Drug Discovery / methods*
  • Fluorine / chemistry*
  • Fluorine / metabolism
  • Fluorine / pharmacokinetics
  • Fluorine / pharmacology*
  • Fluorine Radioisotopes / chemistry
  • Halogenation
  • Humans
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Conformation
  • Positron-Emission Tomography / methods*


  • Fluorine Radioisotopes
  • Fluorine