Ways to Make Medicines Greener

2023-08-28

The issue of pharmaceuticals in the environment is gaining more attention around the world. What actions are necessary to tackling these challenges? Where does the accountability lie? These questions are the theme of the workshop Conflicting Objectives – Using Effective Drugs without Polluting the Environment at Uppsala Health Summit in October. 

Krister Halldin, Assessor at the Swedish Medical Products Agency is organizing the workshop together with colleagues from the Uppsala healthcare administration Region Uppsala. We asked Krister some questions on the topic and what his expectations are for the summit.

In your opinion, what is the most significant challenge when it comes to addressing pharmaceuticals in the environment?

"There are many parts to the problem of pharmaceutical emissions. It is about everything from how we manufacture and use medicine to how we take care of pharmaceutical residues. The measures range all the way from legislation to changes in behaviour. Choosing the most effective measures in the short and long term is a challenge. Currently in the European Commission, there is an effort to strengthen regulations. The purpose is to encourage pharmaceutical companies to better evaluate and limit the potential adverse effects to the environment and to public health", says Krister Halldin, Assessor at the Swedish Medical Products Agency.

Which measures are currently being most widely debated?

"Many questions revolve around measures to reduce emissions in manufacturing. But the EU's new proposal for better wastewater treatment plants is also debated because the suggestion is to introduce an extended producers principle and request that the pharmaceutical and cosmetics industry will be responsible to finance the upgrading of European waste water treatment plants", says Krister Halldin.

The new regulations concern production in Europe, what additional instrument or processes are needed to have an impact on production in countries outside Europe?

"There are several options. For example, demands in procurement and introduction of environmental criteria in good manufacturing practice", says Halldin.

What do you hope that the workshop will result in?

"I hope that we can find more common ground between different actors to support ongoing initiatives  and suggest actions that can be implemented on different levels to mitigate risk with pharmaceuticals reaching the environment", says Krister Halldin.

Would you have any words for those who are considering signing up? Welcome to contribute! We hope to meet participants with different opinions and experiences in  an open and candid atmosphere.

Do you want to join? Read more and sign up!

Pharmaceuticals in the environment
Pharmaceuticals are essential for health, but during production, when residues are excreted after consumption, and when unused pharmaceuticals are discarded into the environment, they become harmful to our ecosystems and eventually also to us.