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BASF offers the world's largest portfolio of chemical raw materials for the pharmaceutical industry, ensuring the needs of our partners are always met. Every step of biopharmaceutical manufacturing requires high-quality raw materials delivered through a transparent, sustainable supply chain. BASF Biopharma Ingredients is committed to meeting your requirements for every ingredient we supply to the biologics industry. At BASF, we create excipients that are safe, effective, and convenient for your customers. Whether you’re developing orally disintegrating formulations that require taste-masking or modified release tablets, BASF has ingredients to deliver the precision you need, every time. At BASF, we offer a comprehensive range of cutting-edge solubilization polymers, and have an unparalleled understanding of the corresponding process technologies. BASF offers an unparalleled portfolio of excipients for topical formulations, enabling you with the tools to overcome formulation challenges. With products based on over 150 years of industry experience, BASF is committed to maintaining the highest level of quality across the product spectrum. BASF offers a broad portfolio of chemistries designed to simplify the product development process. Coating polymers are suitable for a variety of oral formulation challenges. As multifunctional excipients, ethoxylated solubilizers are known for their utility across a large range of dosage form classes. BASF's pharma grade lipid-based excipients are manufactured in GMP-compliant facilities with high quality and reliability in mind. BASF's portfolio of poloxamers are renown for their best-in-class quality. Consisting of a broad portfolio of polyethylene glycols (PEGs), BASF's portfolio of ethoxylated polymer-solubilizers is known for its versatility across a myriad of dosage forms. BASF offers a broad portfolio of functional excipients including our pharmaceutical grade polysorbate and sorbitan esters. Povidones, copovidones, and crospovidones are versatile materials that serve as the foundation of oral solid dosage forms. BASF's portfolio of solvents and co-solvents are suitable for a wide range of applications and processing methodologies. BASF offers a broad portfolio of brand families that are suitable for oral, topical, parenteral, and biologic applications. Coprocessed excipients are combination, all-in-one solutions. Kollicoat® coating polymers are suitable for a variety of oral formulation challenges. Kollicream® pharma grade solvents and emollients are manufactured in GMP-compliant facilities with high quality and reliability in mind. Kollidon® povidones, copovidones, and crospovidones are versatile materials that are most commonly used for solid oral dosage forms. Kolliphor® solubilizers, emulsifiers, co-emulsifiers, and surfactants enable the development of safe and effective formulations. Kollisolv® solubilizers and solvents are suitable for a wide range of applications and processing methodologies. Kolliwax® structuring agents, moisture barriers, and lubricants enable the formulation of various dosage forms. Novata® hard fats are structuring agents and matrix builders. Soluplus® is a novel solubilizer, crystallization inhibitor, and a matrix forming polymer. Explore this collection of resources to learn more about our innovative research and pharma solutions.

There's a perception that everything that comes from nature is better for the environment. While in many cases that can be true, sourcing from nature comes with its own risks and challenges, including deforestation, increased land and water use, and human rights concerns.

However, by understanding your entire value chain and implementing sustainable practices at the source, you can ensure you’re protecting the wellbeing of workers, local communities, and the environment.

Bailey Risteen is Pharma Solutions Global Sustainability Manager at BASF. She notes that there’s been a move towards companies defining responsible sourcing as its own pillar within their sustainability groups and teams, along with a heightened discussion around where materials come from.

“As every company is trying to address their own environmental impact, we’re realizing how much of that impact is outside our direct control,” Risteen says. “Typically, for a pharma company, 80-95% of their CO2 is coming from their Scope 3 emissions, which are indirect upstream or downstream emissions. If you’re a company looking at your data, you’ve committed to environmental targets, and you see a lot of it is out of your hands, it means you need to have greater scrutiny on the partners you’re working with.”

As a company engaged with several global initiatives and industry groups, BASF is committed to empowering insight across the entire value chain.

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Palm oil

Thanks to its versatility, unique chemistry, and high yield, palm oil has had a huge impact in several industries, including pharma, where it’s used as a raw material in many lipid-based excipients. The popularity of palm (kernel) oil has led to issues around deforestation, loss of biodiversity, human rights concerns, and draining of peat lands, which serve as valuable carbon sinks.

Certification bodies are key to alleviating these issues. For palm oil specifically, there’s the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). RSPO is an organization that completes on-the-ground audits of farming practices, investigates whether workers are being exploited, and leans into technology like satellite imagery to track deforestation, and BASF has been involved since the RSPO’s inception in 2004.

“The overcorrection some people believe is that we need to boycott palm entirely, but that might not be the best solution because palm has the highest yield per hectare than any other oil-producing crop,” Risteen continues. “As with most sustainability topics, it’s very nuanced, and this is what responsible sourcing is trying to target. We can address the issues without saying the solution is a full boycott, which could result in an even greater negative environmental impact.”

BASF has a policy to use only RSPO-sourced palm oil. Currently, 100% of the Pharma Solutions lipid-based excipients portfolio is RSPO-certified by the mass balance approach. To date, BASF globally has avoided more than 290,000 tons of CO2 emissions by sourcing RSPO-certified palm oil.

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Fish oil

Another natural resource that’s frequently used in pharma is fish oil, sourced by BASF for its omega-3 products that go into dietary supplements and prescription medications. While many of the responsible sourcing challenges overlap with those that come from harvesting agricultural products like palm oil, there are also unique concerns.  

“RSPO has a large impact in palm oil and is recognized as the go-to certification body,” Risteen explains. “But for fish oil, the market is more fragmented with many industries involved, such as aquaculture (fish farming), pharmaceuticals, human nutrition, and pet food.”  

She mentions the Marine Stewardship Council, Marin Trust, and Friend of the Sea as different organizations that offer certifications for fish oil, completing rigorous audits with their own standards and review processes.  

“At BASF, we completed an investigation into these certifications and decided we needed to shift our policy to require 100% of the fish oil we source to be certified by at least one of these organizations,” Risteen says.  

As of January 2023, that policy became official.  

“There are still a lot of challenges with fish oil that require effort from our part. We’re constantly monitoring stock assessments and regional fish practices, and we have strict criteria and a clear decision tree for our suppliers. All our suppliers were notified that if they don’t meet these criteria, they’ll be phased out.”

Castor oil

Castor oil

In recent years, castor oil has emerged as an essential ingredient to an array of formulations, including excipients in the pharmaceutical industry.

Knowing it was a value chain with no globally defined certification, BASF joined forces with Arkema, Jayant Agro-Organics Ltd, and the international civil society organization Solidaridad to launch a project called Pragati, which translates to English from Hindi as “progress”.

“The idea was to start from the ground up, building a certification scheme for castor oil,” Risteen says. “It’s still relatively in its infancy compared to a system like RSPO, but the aim of it is the same: to support the economic situation of farmers while getting them to adopt more sustainable farming practices, different trainings, workers' rights standards, cultivation methods, and so on.”

The result is the SuCCESS (Sustainable Castor Caring for Environmental & Social Standards) Code, designed with 41 mandatory and 25 non-mandatory control points to allow castor producers to offer certified sustainable castor in the global market.

We're here to help

For those looking to take action, Risteen advises looking into the raw materials you’re buying — especially those based on renewable resources — to understand their sourcing policies, and cross-checking with industry groups such as the Pharmaceutical Supply Chain Initiative (PSCI) to foster education on the topic.

As an organization that’s been involved in responsible sourcing for almost 20 years, BASF can provide extensive documentation, thought leadership, and support on the topic, and answer questions about our sourcing policies and raw materials certifications.

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