To meet this ambition the ETERNAL partners will advance a roadmap of relevant technological innovations – in biocatalysis, carcinogenic impurity capture, substitution of nonrecycled solvents, appropriate treatment of recycled solvents, membrane technology, continuous manufacturing processing and digitalization – towards green production methods and one-step disposal where drugs are fully metabolized in the body and break down immediately and harmlessly in the environment.
The project partners will also be working with specialist researchers using holistic approaches to increase understanding of the environmental impact and toxicity of pharmaceuticals in industry, the research community, and with regulators to inform pharmaceutical strategies and policies based on scientific evidence. Finally, ETERNAL will seek to create opportunities to catalyze behavioural change by piloting campaigns to inform consumers and patients about safe disposal methods for unused or expired medicines and promote the prescription of sustainable drug options among healthcare practitioners.
The ETERNAL consortium represents a powerful team of sixteen parties bringing together knowledge and perspectives from the EU pharmaceuticals manufacturing value-chain, world-leading academics, specialist research centres and innovative SMEs. The project is being coordinated by the Instituto Tecnológico del Plástico (AIMPLAS), a leading Spanish research and technology organisation with an active interest in addressing the sustainability challenges facing the health industry.
Angelini Pharma are an example of a pharma industry end user, who will actively participate in ETERNAL through two case studies, focused on substitution of appropriate treatment of recycled solvents and continuous manufacturing respectively. According to Enrico Giaquinto, Chief Industrial Operations Officer,
The participation of Angelini Pharma in the ETERNAL project demonstrates the sustainability journey and the commitment of the company in investing in greener manufacturing practices, also through innovative European partnerships.
The UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (UKCEH) is leading work on environmental risk assessment for the project. The goal of this work is to advance our understanding and ability to assess the risk that pharmaceuticals may pose to the environment. UKCEH will perform targeted studies assessing the toxicity of pharmaceuticals and their by-products to ecosystems, use mathematical models to predict their transport into and around the environment, collate monitoring data, and produce a roadmap for integrating new scientific knowledge into regulatory risk assessment. Dr Sam Harrison, an environmental chemistry modeller at UKCEH says,
We will bring the latest scientific knowledge into regulatory risk assessment, enabling us to rank current in-use pharmaceuticals in terms of those that pose the greatest environmental risk, and to assess how the modifications made within the project case studies reduce risk. This allows us to target mitigations, modifications and management strategies to reduce this risk, ultimately towards a greener, more sustainable environment.
Finally, UK-based process understanding specialist Britest is leading the project's activities to scale-up the project's innovation in six industrial pilots hosted in pharmaceutical partners and to catalyze participation for change through the project's external communications and dissemination activities, reaching out to targets stakeholders involved in industrial, regulatory, healthcare and consumer aspects of the pharmaceuticals lifecycle. Britest's Technical Services Director Rob Peeling said,
Britest's technical facilitation approach is ideally suited to establishing the industry-research co-creation process the project is pursuing. We'll be helping partners understand how to work together and define what success looks like, to extract common shareable science and lessons from across the case studies, and to assess and mitigate the future scale-up risks and barriers associated with each of the industry pilots.