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Enantioselective Synthesis of (−)-Codeine and (−)-Morphine

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journal contribution
posted on 15.11.2002 by Barry M. Trost, Weiping Tang
A new synthetic strategy for the synthesis of the opiate and amaryllidaceae alkaloids emerges employing a Pd-catalyzed asymmetric allylic alkylation to set the stereochemistry. The pivotal tricyclic intermediate is available in six steps from 2-bromovanillin and the monoester of methyl 6-hydroxycyclohexene-1-carboxylate, the latter available from glutaraldehyde and the Emmons−Wadsworth−Horner phosphate reagent. This intermediate requires only two steps to convert to (−)-galanthamine. Using a Heck vinylation, we found that the fourth ring of codeine/morphine is formed. The final ring formation involves a novel visible light-promoted hydroamination. Thus, six steps are required to convert the pivotal tricyclic intermediate into codeine, which has been demethylated in high yield to morphine.