ETERNAL and four other Horizon Europe research projects partner to form new Green Pharma Cluster

Published: 20-May-2024

The new cluster of R&D projects aims to increase the sustainability of pharmaceutical products and exploit research synergies to boost the impact of its innovations

ETERNAL and its sister projects, ENVIROMED, IMPACTIVE, SusPharma and TransPharm, have joined forces to form a Green Pharma Horizon Projects Cluster and capitalise on synergistic development.

The aim of this cluster of R&D projects is to increase the sustainability of pharmaceutical products and exploit research synergies to boost the impact of innovations.

“The Green Pharma Cluster is organised in three working groups. Each one represents an area of common interest across all the projects and an opportunity to achieve synergies”, explained ETERNAL coordinator Pablo Ferrer Pérez from AIMPLAS, the Plastics
Technology Centre.
“There’s no doubt that our science can be stronger and more efficient when we work together and that we can provide more effective advocacy for the systemic changes required for a sustainable healthcare system in the future."


The cluster's aims

The first working group aims to research relevant methodological issues that include assumptions made in pharma life cycle assessment (LCA), such as the functional unit, system boundaries and life cycle impact assessment (LCIA) methods. It will also address
LCA data quality and data availability.

The second working group, Green-Pharma API Synthesis, explores the synergies the projects can create by focusing on the synthesis of different active pharmaceutical ingredients.

Finally, the third group collaborates on communication and dissemination activities by setting up two-way communication channels with target audiences in the technical community and the general public, and disseminating key messages that can have an
impact on interested parties.

This group has a plan in place for the next twelve months that will build collective communication assets and coordinate efforts in areas such as social media and participation in high-profile events.

ETERNAL project progress up to now

ETERNAL combines industrial case studies, research on the environmental risks of active pharmaceutical ingredients, by-products, residues and metabolites, as well as stakeholder engagement to promote full life cycle approaches covering pharmaceutical design, manufacture, use and disposal as a contribution towards a sustainably healthy future society.

In its first 18 months, ETERNAL has successfully mobilised multidisciplinary teams in six industrial case studies.

These teams have co-designed a range of innovative approaches that address sustainability challenges in a range of current pharmaceutical manufacturing practices and ways to transform them. Examples include better use and recovery of
process solvents, using greener solvent alternatives, continuous technologies for synthesis, isolation and downstream processing of different dosage forms and a greener-by-design approach towards targeted synthetic biology.

Several of the case studies also harness the power of advanced digitalisation to improve design, analysis and control of their innovative processes through process analytical technology (PAT) and digital twin approaches.


Introducing sustainability initiatives

As the project moves towards scaling-up innovations to reach commercialisation, ETERNAL is also contributing to broader scientific knowledge and policy thinking for a sustainable and healthy society and environment.

Researchers studying the sustainability benefits of membrane technology in organic solvent separation and purification recently generated ETERNAL’s first open access peer-reviewed publication, a review of organic solvent nanofiltration (OSN) in pharmaceutical


Industry reports to inform and inspire

Elsewhere, the project has generated four public reports of interest to strategic thinkers in industry and academia, policymakers and regulators, as well as all those interested in promoting sustainable, healthy living.

These reports reflect on aspects of the broader environmental and societal context within which the pharmaceutical and healthcare sectors operate and point the way to how things can change for the better in areas such as standardisation in research, digitalisation in the EU pharmaceuticals industry, incorporating new scientific knowledge in pharmaceutical environmental risk assessment and including “compliant-by-design” strategies in the regulatory framework.

The ETERNAL Project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon Europe Framework Programme (HORIZON) under grant agreement No. 101057668. Coordinated by AIMPLAS, the ETERNAL Consortium represents a powerful team of sixteen parties
that contribute knowledge and perspectives from the EU pharmaceuticals manufacturing value-chain, world-leading academics, specialist research centres and innovative SMEs.

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