Fluorine flowers

A simple and cost-effective way to add fluorine to various compounds, from pharmaceuticals to agrochemicals has been developed by Stephen Buchwald and colleagues at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. About a fourth of all pharmaceuticals on the market now contain at least one fluorine atom, which not only improves efficacy and reduces side-effects but neatly side-steps patent expiries and certain regulatory hurdles. Buchwald and colleagues have identified conditions under which reductive elimination occurs to form new carbon-fluorine bonds in a catalytic process, a reaction that was missing from the chemist's synthetic repertoire until now.