GREENER Pharmaceuticals for More Sustainable Healthcare

Environ Sci Technol Lett. 2022 Sep 13;9(9):699-705. doi: 10.1021/acs.estlett.2c00446. Epub 2022 Aug 23.


Medicines are essential to human health but can also impact the aquatic and terrestrial environment after use by patients and release via excreta into wastewater. We highlight the need for a GREENER approach to identify and meet important environmental criteria, which will help reduce the impact of medicinal residues on the environment. These criteria include effect reduction by avoiding nontarget effects or undesirable moieties, exposure reduction via lower emissions or environmental (bio)degradability, no PBT (persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic) substances, and risk mitigation. With all of these criteria, however, patient health is of primary importance as medicines are required to be safe and efficacious for treating diseases. We discuss the feasibility of including these criteria for green by design active pharmaceutical ingredients in the process of drug discovery and development and which tools or assays are needed to accomplish this. The integrated GREENER approach can be used to accelerate discussions about future innovations in drug discovery and development.

Publication types

  • Review