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Janssen: Improving Our Environmental Footprint

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Contributed by Phil Dahlin, Sustainability at Janssen

The connection between green chemistry and health is one that I am both personally and professionally engaged in. Healthy people depend on a healthy planet. And so I see environmental stewardship as a vital component of our pharmaceutical business. At Janssen, the pharmaceutical companies of Johnson & Johnson, this includes investing in innovative approaches to improve our environmental footprint.

Assessing Product Lifecycle

Chemical processes have a significant impact on a pharmaceutical product's environmental footprint, so integrating more green chemistry into standard practice has been a business imperative for Janssen over the last decade. Johnson & Johnson utilizes its Earthwards® approach as way of addressing the impacts of our products, throughout their lifecycles. Life cycle assessment (LCA) methodology – looking at both products and their components from cradle through use and end-of-life – has come a long way since the first widely-recognized study performed by Coca-Cola in 1969. Janssen found that performing LCAs has helped us to identify opportunities to better incorporate sustainability into our product development processes and reduce our environmental impact. However, what we’ve learned is that a full-blown LCA is a very intensive exercise, the data acquisition is not always straight-forward, and performing a LCA on every product we manufactured was simply not feasible. We also discovered that there were no existing methodologies at that time to adequately assess the sheer volume of variables associated with pharmaceutical products.


We decided to partner with the Department of Sustainable Organic Chemistry and Technology at Ghent University, Belgium (UGent) to develop state-of-the-art methodologies in sustainability assessments that would simplify the LCAs we had to perform and identify priority variables. Janssen has a long-time, productive partnership with UGent, so the collaboration was a natural fit to find more efficient ways of understanding where the largest impacts of our processes were.

After conducting a full LCA on 40 different chemical manufacturing steps and gathering data on 15 potential predictor variables, we were able to develop a highly-predictive model of the environmental footprint of a product using just three variables. This method showed us where we had the largest opportunities to streamline our development and manufacturing processes, and where we might invest in footprint reduction initiatives. It also earned some of our products Earthwards® recognition1 , an honor recognized by Johnson & Johnson leadership for our most broadly improved products.

What Next?

Inspired by the success of this collaboration, Janssen is proud to support the ACS GCI roundtable on green chemistry. We believe that by working together to address the ethical, social and environmental aspects of our industry, we can all achieve the best outcomes for our patients and society. We look forward to further collaborations in the future on the path to creating more sustainable medicines in 2015 and beyond.


1e.g. galantamine HBr, active pharmaceutical ingredient of REMINYL®/RAZADYNE® (3 API manufacturing process generations)

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