The EU, through the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), has launched a proposal that aims to extensively restrict the manufacture, supply, and use of all per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. PFAS include a vast range of fluoroalkyl materials, ranging from simple fluorinated reagents and starting materials used in drug discovery and development (including the synthesis of active pharmaceutical ingredients), to thermoplastic polymers found in laboratory commodities such as stirring bars or O-rings. Several PFAS are environmental pollutants and some of them have detrimental effects on human health. Their extensive use throughout the society, combined with the low reactivity displayed by many fluoroalkyl chemicals, magnifies the potential for accumulation in the environment and contamination of food and water supplies.
However, the entire ban of these materials can lead to major disruptions in all research, development, and innovation activities related to medicinal chemistry and chemical biology. Ultimately, it can have long-term implications on the innovation potential of EU research.
Importantly, there are currently a significant number of compounds in clinical use or in Phase III of clinical trials (the last stage before approval and marketing) containing fluorinated groups such as CF3 and CF2, or combination of both, in their structure. These are life-saving compounds, and thus a transition period should be considered to enable a detailed analysis of the socio-economic impacts of a ban in the short-term and to find efficient, safe and economically viable alternatives.