Green Chemistry Increases Access to Drugs to Treat Epidemic Diseases

Organizer: Berkeley W. Cue, Jr., Adjunct Professor, Center for Green Chemistry, University of Massachusetts – Boston, Boston, MA

Drugs to treat diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, hepatitis C and bacterial infections, for example, are available, and for the most part affordable, in Western economies. However, in low- to middle-income countries where these diseases have reached epidemic proportions, many of these drugs are not accessible to large segments of the patient populations, due to both affordability and availability issues. Moreover, to address affordability, active pharmaceutical ingredients (API’s) of these drugs are manufactured in low-cost manufacturing countries like India and China, where poor environmental management by some manufacturers has created an environmental crisis, resulting in increasingly stringent regulatory action by their governments, fines, imprisonment of officials and closure of the most egregious plants. Even a temporary shutdown of these plants could have a big negative impact on the drug supply chain, e.g., decreased access and possibly rationing. An effective approach to protect against this outcome is needed. Green chemistry has been shown to be a powerful solution to both problems, by lowering manufacturing costs and shrinking the manufacturing environmental footprint, and may be the best option for avoiding the kinds of government actions that could interrupt the supply of these life-saving medicines.