Ibuprofen, commonly used as an alternative to aspirin, received an environmental make-over of its industrial production process in 1997.
Ibuprofen, commonly sold as Advil™ or Motrin™, is a non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drug that has been used as a pain reliever and fever reducer and was first introduced to the commercial market in the early 1990s. Its combined abilities to reduce swelling and ease pain make ibuprofen an important treatment for both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, as well as many other common ailments.
The BHC Company, now BASF Corporation, changed how ibuprofen was produced. The company made the process more environmentally friendly, such that in 1997, BASF received a Presidential Green Chemistry award. The Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge recognizes innovative chemical technologies that have broad industrial applications in the area of pollution prevention. Each June, the awards are given as a partnership between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the American Chemical Society Green Chemistry Institute.
In the revised synthesis of ibuprofen, the previous six-step process was simplified to three steps. The new process used fewer organic solvents and produced less waste; anhydrous hydrogen fluoride was employed as both a catalyst and a solvent. The by-product of the process, acetic acid, was entirely recovered, thus virtually eliminating all waste production.
The new production process for this pain reliever relieved a lot of pain for the environment as well.
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