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.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

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

‘Amid stormy global seas, UN charter remains our moral anchor’, says Guterres on United Nations Day

The rise of techno-nationalism – and the paradox at its core

Crisis hit countries cut down public spending on education

Sudan: Health challenges in the Sustainable Development Goals era

Here’s how data can shine a light on financial crime

Friday’s Daily Brief: hunger in North Korea, human rights in Iran, updates on DR Congo and Benin

Denouncing attacks against Baghdad protesters, UN warns ‘violence risks placing Iraq on dangerous trajectory’

JADE Team at the European Business Summit 2017

Why European manufacturing SMEs in the South face fatal dangers

Superbugs: MEPs advocate further measures to curb use of antimicrobials

JADE Romania Celebrates the 4th Anniversary

Mexico: Helping refugees go into business, a ‘win-win situation’, says UNHCR’s Grandi

How the EU crisis hit countries saved the German and French mega-banks from bankruptcy and still pay the costs

EU labour mobility: Inconvenient truths for everybody

MEPs approve boost to workers’ rights in the gig economy

Could implants treat people with brain disease? A young scientist explains

Australia wants to build a giant underground ‘battery’ to help power the nation

10 of Albert Einstein’s best quotes

Eurozone: Subdued inflation can lead to more recession

Monday’s Daily Brief: drug-resistant diseases, Venezuelan refugees, fighting in Tripoli, and hate speech

Alarm over violent attacks on lawmakers, opposition in Malawi, ahead of elections

Mirrored classroom display highlights scale of massive education crisis

Love unlimited

Public Health equality in a trench

On Human Rights Day European Youth Forum calls for end to discrimination of young people

Asking for more restriction on intra EU immigration: Unproductive and politically dangerous

A Valentine’s Special: heart has nothing to do with it, it’s all Brain

Swedish PM Löfven: “Our common values must guide us to an even better future”

Who will win the AI race? If countries work together, then the answer could be all of us

Thai cave boys spared thundershowers, highlighting extreme climate disruption: UN weather agency

Around 52 million in Near East, North Africa, suffering chronic undernourishment, new UN food agency report reveals

Four ways Artificial Intelligence can make healthcare more efficient and affordable

This wall of shoes is for the women killed by domestic violence

‘Terror and panic’ among Rohingya who may be forced to return to Myanmar – UN rights chief

OECD welcomes French plans to increase and better target foreign aid

What is digital equality? An interview with Nanjira Sambuli

Waste-free consumption: 3 reasons why cities will lead

Easing US-China trade tensions could save millions of jobs: Asia-Pacific UN report

This is the state of the world’s health, in numbers

Rising human trafficking takes on ‘horrific dimensions’: almost a third of victims are children

We must treat cybersecurity as a public good. Here’s why

Why and how Germany had it again its own way in Cyprus

This is what CEOs around the world see as the biggest risks to business

The EU responds to US challenges by fining Apple with €13 billion

An FTA between EU-US to hurt South Korea

Why we need both science and humanities for a Fourth Industrial Revolution education

AIESEC @ European Business Summit 2014: European Youth, Change Now Patiently

The Venezuelan exodus to Roraima and its repercussions

Improvements to pension systems have made them better placed to deliver pensions

Afghanistan probe: ‘at least 60 civilians’ killed after US military airstrikes on alleged drug labs

Agreement reached on digital copyright rules

Labels for tyres: deal for greener and safer road transport

How universities can become a platform for social change

EU-US Privacy Shield data exchange deal: US must comply by 1 September, say MEPs

The Next Web 2014, the biggest European conference on Internet so far and the Absence of Brussels from Amsterdam

Search Engine neutrality in Europe in danger: Are 160.000 Google filtering requests good enough?

Eurozone: There is a remedy for regional convergence

These four countries are the happiest in the European Union

The European Sting’s 2018 in most critical review

How much is nature worth? $125 trillion, according to this report

More Stings?

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