Ghent University: European researchers call for sustainable drug discovery

Researchers from five European universities point to the global increase in the use of medicines and its long-term impact on the ecosystem and our health. They propose ten principles of sustainability to be applied in drug discovery. Sustainability should play an important role in the approval of new drugs, and universities should integrate sustainability into their (drug discovery) educational programmes, they say.

Due to the expanding and ageing world population, the importance and use of medicines is expected to increase. This will lead to a greater impact on the ecosystem and our health in the long term.

“Finding adequate treatments for unmet disease conditions, for everyone, everywhere, at a fair price, while respecting the environment and ecosystems is indeed an enormous challenge, and one that we must be better prepared for”, says Ghent University professor Bart De Spiegeleer.
The concept of sustainability is rather slowly gaining traction and is currently still fragmented in the pharmaceutical field. The researchers therefore advocate a global, systematic approach and place the emphasis on sustainability already in early stages of drug development, i.e. drug discovery. According to the researchers, the competent authorities, universities, research institutions and industrial organisations all need to take sustainability more into account. They summarized the most important opportunities on the basis of ten sustainability principles.

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