Pharmaceuticals in the environment: Commission defines actions to address risks and challenges

Medicine

(Unsplash, 2019)

This article is brought to you in association with the European Commission.


The European Commission adopted yesterday a Communication outlining a set of actions addressing the multifaceted challenges that the release of pharmaceuticals poses to the environment.

The “Strategic Approach to Pharmaceuticals in the Environment” that the Commission presents today, identifies six action areas concerning all stages of the pharmaceutical life cycle, where improvements can be made. The text addresses pharmaceuticals for human as well as for veterinary use. The areas cover all stages of the lifecycle of pharmaceuticals, from design and production to disposal and waste management, in line with the principles of the staff working document of the Commission on Sustainable Products in a Circular Economy. The six areas identified include actions to raise awareness and promote prudent use, improve training and risk assessment, gather monitoring data, incentivise “green design”, reduce emissions from manufacturing, reduce waste and improve wastewater treatment.

Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries said: “Most of us have had reason to take some form of medicine in our lives, and we are fortunate that we can be helped in this way. Pharmaceuticals are also essential for ensuring animal health. Many of us are however not aware that some of what is consumed ends up in the environment having an effect on wildlife such as the fish in our rivers. We must reduce the entry of pharmaceuticals into our rivers and soils for our own benefit and in order to protect the wildlife and the environment.”

Vytenis Andriukaitis, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety added: “It is essential that medicines are safe and effective for our health, however we should be aware of the environmental impact they may have. Drug-resistant bacteria is one of the major health threats world-wide, therefore in our fight against antimicrobial resistance, everyone benefits not only from the prudent use of medicines but also from a well thought-through production and disposing system. It is time for us collectively to draw attention to the risks of the antimicrobials for the environment. . This Communication identifies areas where action is needed and serves us as a stepping stone for our future discussions.”

Pharmaceuticals discarded in the environment have been shown to pose a risk to fish or other wildlife, for example by affecting their ability to reproduce, by altering their behaviour in ways jeopardising their survival, or through direct toxic effects. In addition, incorrectly disposed medicinesmay contribute to the serious problem of antimicrobial resistance. Increased awareness has prompted further investigation, as well as calls and proposals for action to reduce emissions to the environment, in particular to water but also to soil.

Today’s Communication places an emphasis on sharing good practices, on cooperating at international level, and on improving understanding of the risks. This is crucial in the context of addressing antimicrobial resistance, a problem that is growing at global level. Several actions in the strategic approach are intended to contribute to the objectives of the European One-Health Action Plan against Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR). The Action Plan stresses the need for a One-Health approach taking account of the interconnections between human and animal health and the environment.

The Commission will follow up the actions set in the Communication, and invites Member States and other stakeholders to take action as well.

Background

Pharmaceuticals are found in surface and groundwater across Europe that is used for irrigation and drinking water production and that is essential for wildlife. Awareness has grown in recent years of the possible risks from pharmaceuticals in the environment, but so far the knowledge and active policy for reducing the risks are still limited to only parts of the EU. The aim of the “Strategic Approach to Pharmaceuticals in the Environment” which was presented today is to draw attention to those risks.

In 2013 the EU adopted legislation requiring the Commission to develop a strategic approach to pharmaceuticals in the environment, including proposals for measures, where appropriate, to address the possible impacts. The Strategic Approach has been developed taking into account information gathered through two scientific studies, as well as other information gathered from EU Member States, other stakeholders and research sources. The second study included an analysis of the results of a public and targeted stakeholder consultation on options for possible inclusion in the approach.

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

‘Stealing’ food from hungry Yemenis ‘must stop immediately’, says UN agency

US migrant children policy reversal, still ‘fails’ thousands of detained youngsters: UN rights experts

The 5 mistakes we’re making in the fight against global energy poverty

EU Commission expects consumer spending to unlock growth

EU-UK Statement following the High Level Meeting on 15 June

5 futuristic ways to fight cyber attacks

Remarks by Commissioner Lenarčič on the deployment of EU Medical Teams to Italy

How the digital finance revolution can drive sustainable development

IMF: When high yield goes boom

UN relief official in Yemen condemns ‘horrific’ attack on passenger buses

National parks transformed conservation. Now we need to do the same for the ocean

UN member states express their will to tackle global migration but specific actions are still missing

New UN-supported farming app is cream of crop in tackling Sahel pest

COVID-19: EU co-finances the delivery of more protective equipment to China

Parliament backs a modernised EU electoral law

Is your business model fit for the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

More efforts needed to boost trust in business and finance

3 reasons why Singapore is the smartest city in the world

Although Greece is struggling to pay salaries and pensions Varoufakis is “optimistic”; the Sting reports live from EBS 2015

A shipping industry leader explains how to keep supply chains moving amid a pandemic

EU and China in search of a win-win agreement through strategic cooperation ahead of the EU-China summit

Burning Amazon rainforests: Darting towards the doom of Human Race

FROM THE FIELD: ‘Hope’ on the horizon as UN Peacekeepers push deep into Mali

“Is Europe innovative? Oh, Yes we are very innovative!”, Director General of the European Commission Mr Robert-Jan Smits on another Sting Exclusive

Spread of polio still an international public health concern

New citizenship law in India ‘fundamentally discriminatory’: UN human rights office

EU unveils plan to accelerate Capital Markets Union ahead of London’s departure from the bloc

Mali just took a huge step towards universal healthcare

Women outliving men ‘everywhere’, new UN health agency statistics report shows

First-ever World Braille Day underscores importance of written language for human rights

The West and Russia impose a new order on the world

Praising Roma’s contributions in Europe, UN expert urges end to rising intolerance and hate speech

Security Council welcomes Yemen breakthrough, but lasting peace remains a ‘daunting task’

This woman changed the world of work – and you’ve probably never heard of her

Can Obama attract Iran close to the US sphere of influence?

UN launches plan to promote peace, inclusive growth in Africa’s Sahel

European Commission presents comprehensive approach for the modernisation of the World Trade Organisation

SMEs are driving job growth, but need higher investment in skills, innovation and tech to boost wages and productivity

Structuring Your Perception: The Key to a Good Mental Health during COVID-19

Does the world have strong enough institutions to handle risks like Trump and Brexit?

5 facts to know about Africa’s powerhouse – Nigeria

Prevention is key to ‘breaking the cycle of HIV transmission’, UN chief tells General Assembly

Trump’s Pandemic Failure: A Missed Opportunity

Greece: Tsipras’ referendum victory does not solve the financial stalemate of the country and its banks

5 lessons from China on how to drive sustainable growth

Public climate finance to developing countries is rising

Canada has the most comprehensive and elaborate migration system, but some challenges remain

How much time has the ‘European Union of last chance’ left?

Long-term EU budget: Parliament wants safety net for beneficiaries

Yemen: Security Council backs new mission in support of key port city truce

The result of European Elections 2019 seals the end of the business as usual era in Brussels

Syrian civilians must be protected amid ISIL executions and airstrikes: Bachelet

UN Committee says Ebola in DR Congo still an international public health emergency

OECD will follow Canadian proceedings addressing allegations of political interference in foreign bribery prosecution

Hunger in Yemen: WFP considers aid suspension in face of repeated interference by some Houthi leaders

Ten UN peacekeepers killed in a terrorist attack in northern Mali

New General Assembly President brings ‘valuable insights’ into key UN challenges

The G7 should take the lead on ocean targets for 2020

The DNA of the future retail CEO

‘Cataclysmic events’ in Hiroshima, Nagasaki, began ‘global push’ against nuclear weapons says Guterres, honouring victims

More Stings?

Advertising

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s