Until the early 1990s, it took six separate, chemical reactions to make the painkiller and anti-inflammatory ibuprofen. Of the ingredients that went in, only about 40 percent were found in the final product. But in 1992, the chemical producer BHC Company started using a new way to produce the drug using only three steps, utilizing about 80 percent of the initial ingredients. Today, the innovation in ibuprofen is considered a classic example of green chemistry—a set of ideas that, for the past few decades, has driven attention to sustainability in the pharmaceutical industry.
“When you practice chemistry, you’re working with materials to transform them,” Audrey Moores, professor in the Centre for Green Chemistry and Catalysis at McGill University, told The Daily Beast. “You have a lot of material and you turn it into a little material.” Read more