New collaborative project to establish safe and sustainable pharmaceutical lifecycles by design

Britest is playing a crucial linking and communications role in a a new four-year European project that will contribute to the sustainable development of pharmaceuticals, by using and promoting lifecycle approaches to their design, manufacture, usage, and disposal.

The ETERNAL Research and Innovation Action will assess the environmental risks of not only active pharmaceutical ingredients and residues or metabolites, but also other chemicals and by-products of the production process, establishing safe and sustainable pharmaceutical lifecycles by design.

This sort of approach is essential to fully consider the types of green manufacturing currently under consideration by the pharmaceutical industry. The risk and lifecycle assessment approaches being developed in the project will be applied to six case studies, which will provide industry and policy makers with practical examples of how whole lifecycle assessment may be used to evaluate changes in environmental impacts due to the introduction of green manufacturing processes.

Representatives of the ETERNAL project partners gathered in late September for the project's launch in Valencia

Funded under the European Union’s Horizon Europe Framework Programme, ETERNAL will help to tackle the challenge of maintaining ongoing access to safe, high quality and effective pharmaceutical treatments for citizens and animals, whilst ensuring sustainable supply chains and consumption patterns, and avoiding undue impacts of pharmaceutical residues on the environment.

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 proactively with other specialist researchers using holistic approaches to increase understanding of the environmental impact and toxicity of pharmaceuticals among industry, the research community, and 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 SME. 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.

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."


This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon Europe Framework Programme (HORIZON) under grant agreement No 101057668.