HCWH Europe’s new study on the management of pharmaceutical manufacturing waste

Pollution from pharmaceuticals represents an environmental threat that is being increasingly recognised on a global scale. Pharmaceutical residues can enter the environment in numerous ways but it is during the stage of their production that appropriate measures can be taken to encourage tackling the problem at its source – therefore, strong environmental legislation exercised both at a national as well as industry level remains essential. The landscape of measures taken in order to reduce pharmaceuticals in the environment is often determined by initiatives of individual companies. This is why HCWH Europe, as part of the SaferPharma campaign, have launched a survey to determine appropriate policies and industry responsibility from the perspective of manufacturers. 

How significant is the issue?

Pharmaceutical residues have been detected in surface water, groundwater and drinking water, sewage effluents, manure, and soil. Sufficient evidence shows that pharmaceuticals, even in low concentrations, can harm flora and fauna. Their effects on ecosystems and human health can be devastating, leading to the impairment of reproduction in fish population, stopping of growth of some aquatic species, renal failure in vulture populations, or the development of antimicrobial resistance. Worse still, pharmaceutical manufacturers now outsource the production of active pharmaceutical ingredients to emerging and developing countries with weaker environmental legislation.,When discharges of pharmaceutical pollution occur in such countries, incidents may not be fully controlled, potentially going beyond local areas and becoming a global concern – manufacturing discharges support the transmission of resistant bacteria to humans and animals, a process that is likely to be further exacerbated by international travel and trade.

The survey

We want to learn more about how the pharmaceutical industry handles its manufacturing waste throughout supply chains – we have therefore contacted some of the biggest pharmaceutical companies providing them with a survey focusing on aspects such as commitment to environmental policies and the level of their implementation, both at own-operated facilities as well as third-party suppliers. The data gathered through the survey and publicly available and relevant information will allow us to create a ranking of pharmaceutical companies based on their environmental policies and distinguish the industry best practices in this area. The study findings will be published and disseminated by HCWH Europe to create awareness on pharmaceuticals in the environment and manufacturers’ responsibility.

Join us today!

We are seeking to engage with pharmaceutical companies featured in the 2017 annual ranking presented by Pharmaceutical Executive. If you represent a pharmaceutical manufacturer included in the ranking and would like to participate in the study, please contact our Research Assistant, Maja Milkowska, at maja.milkowska@hcwh.org. Join us today to share your experience and help us communicate environmentally responsible attitudes and actions.