GREEN CHEMISTRY: the design of chemical products and processes that reduces the use or generation of hazardous substances, a move pharmaceutical companies are finding can save them millions.

When Merck created a more efficient way to synthesize sitagliptin, the active ingredient in its diabetes treatment Januvia, the company says it increased the yield by 50%, decreased waste by 80% and cut manufacturing costs by 70%. Other manufacturers are adopting production techniques that minimize energy and solvent use, generate less waste and make more efficient use of raw materials. “They’re finding cost savings attributed solely to green chemistry of as much as several million dollars a year, which could amount to $50 million to $100 million over the commercial lifetime of the drug,” says Berkeley Cue, co-founder of the American Chemical Society’s Green Chemistry Institute Pharmaceutical Roundtable.