Volatile Organic Compounds

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Over-the-counter (OTC) pharmaceutical products often require the use of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) to ensure efficacy and safety. VOCs include ingredients such as solvents and propellants that allow medicines to be effectively delivered and absorbed by the body. For example, acetone is frequently used during the tablet coating process as it evaporates quickly and leaves little residue. This allows coatings that control the drug release rate to adhere properly to the tablet surface. Propellants like butane and isobutene provide pressure in inhalers to ensure the active drug reaches the lungs to relieve asthma symptoms.

The Issue

When considering legislation on VOCs, there is potential for unintended impacts on access to self-care products.

CHPA’s Position

While VOCs can have environmental impacts in aggregate, existing alternatives don’t always provide the consistent therapeutic results needed for OTC products relied upon by millions for minor health issues. As such, any legislation aimed at further restricting pharmaceutical VOCs must carefully weigh potential unintended consequences on public health access against sustainability benefits through close coordination with scientific experts. With thoughtful evidence-based policies, solutions can balance both innovation pipeline needs and conservation goals.