Sustained demands for pharmaceutical commodities are continuously created due to economic development and the rapidly aging world population. However, the climate and environmental implications of globalized pharmaceutical manufacturing have not been sufficiently understood to inform the integration of key learnings into sustainability practices. Here, we systematically study the environmental impacts of the pharmaceutical supply chain and identify hotspots through a novel analysis framework. Using the case of an HIV drug, tenofovir disoproxil fumarate, we demonstrate that improving the solvent recovery rate, innovating the adenine synthesis route, optimizing the adenine yield, and substituting non-renewable heating fuels with renewables can help mitigate the carbon footprint and cumulative energy demand by up to 45%. Carefully optimized pharmaceutical supply chain networks can result in a reduction of up to 9.3% in the life cycle carbon footprint. The majority of carbon emission reductions could be attributed to manufacturing and formulating in regions with deeply decarbonized power grids, rather than reducing the transportation distances between production or formulation sites and raw material or demand zones. Pharmaceutical manufacturers could be incentivized to purchase renewable electricity and source climate pledge friendly raw materials to reduce their carbon footprint.
For a complete summary of this data source and to see reported environmental impact values for studied products and activities, explore the HealthcareLCA Database.
Tao Y, Zhu S, Smith J, Lakhani N, You F. Environmental Sustainability of the Globalized Pharmaceutical Supply Chains: The Case of Tenofovir Disoproxil Fumarate. ACS sustainable chemistry & engineering. 2023;11(17):6510–22.