HCWH Europe’s Declaration on Pharmaceuticals in the Environment

20 Organisations sign declaration expressing serious concern about pharmaceuticals in the environment in the EU

Due to World Antibiotic Awareness Week,  Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) is releasing this declaration expressing serious concern about pharmaceuticals in the environment in the EU.
The consortium of organisations wrote to the Commissioner to highlight the importance of introducing ambitious legislation in the upcoming Strategic Approach to Pharmaceuticals in the Environment (due to be released in early 2018). The Declaration also highlights the unintended consequences of the release of increasing amounts of pharmaceuticals into the environment on both human and environmental health.

We strongly believe that the following steps are necessary to address the problems posed by pharmaceuticals in the environment and should therefore be incorporated into the strategic approach:
1. Minimise the entry of pharmaceuticals into the environment throughout their life cycle.
2. Ensure zero discharge of pharmaceuticals in the environment during the entire production process.
3. Increase transparency and ensure consistently high standards along the entire pharmaceutical supply chain, including in countries outside the EU where the majority of pharmaceutical manufacturing occurs. This could be achieved by incorporating environmental criteria in the Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) framework.
4. Extended producer responsibility should apply to the pharmaceutical industry – producers should be accountable for pharmaceutical waste throughout their life cycle.
5. Assess the potential environmental risks of all human and veterinary pharmaceuticals and ensure regular environmental review of authorised pharmaceuticals based on current scientific knowledge.
6. Encourage green procurement as a means of switching to pharmaceuticals with a lower environmental impact.
7. Promote the rational use of pharmaceuticals and education and awareness-raising campaigns about pharmaceuticals and their environmental impact.
8. Improve municipal wastewater treatment facilities in order to prevent environmental pollution caused by excreted pharmaceuticals.
9. Establish collection and take-back schemes, discourage the inappropriate disposal of unwanted pharmaceuticals in the home, and encourage awareness-raising and education programmes to dispose of unused pharmaceuticals safely.
10. Introduce comprehensive legislation to reduce the impact of pharmaceuticals in the environment.
11. Establish a procedure to define threshold values for single and mixture pharmaceutical residues in water bodies.
12. Ensure reduced discharge of pharmaceuticals from animal livestock holdings by promoting husbandry practices that foster animal health and prevent prophylactic antibiotics-use in veterinary medicine.

We call on the European Commission to consider our position on this issue and take immediate action to protect human and environmental health.

See full Statement in pdf