TWN Info Service on Health Issues (Jun18/05)
14 June 2018
Third World Network

EU junks strategy to tackle drug pollution

Dear friends and colleagues,

The European Commission’s long-awaited strategic approach to pharmaceuticals in the environment (PIE), which was set for release, has been scrapped.

Leaked documents seen by The Guardian newspaper in the UK revealed that ‘plans to monitor farm and pharmaceutical companies, to add environmental standards to EU medical product rules and to oblige environmental risk assessments for drugs used by humans have all been discarded’.

Pollution from pharmaceutical plants is leading to the development of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and this in turn could see more and more people dying from previously treatable diseases.

Earlier in April five European organisations had written to the Vice-President of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans, concerning the health and environmental risks posed by pharmaceutical pollution.

The group which includes the European Environmental Bureau, Changing Markets Foundation, Health Care Without Harm Europe, and Pesticides Action Network said: ‘We are concerned that the pharmaceutical industry is currently excluded from any kind of environmental legislation, which is untenable in the light of the risk that pharmaceutical pollution poses to the environment and to human health. We expect legislative action from the Commission to tackle this issue, similar to the regulation of the chemical industry through REACH’.

According to The Guardian, another dropped proposal would have ensured that pharmaceutical firms collect, monitor and share data on the discharge of their microbials into effluent from global hotspots, often caused by intensive livestock farms.

Citing Nusa Urbancic, spokeswoman for the Changing Markets Foundation, The Guardian wrote: ‘The weakening of this draft has the fingerprints of pharmaceutical industry all over it’.

For details, please see articles published in The Guardian titled ‘Antibiotic apocalypse: EU scraps plans to tackle drug pollution, despite fears of rising resistance’ <> and on META (the news channel of the European Environmental Bureau) titled ‘Public Health disaster on the cards if pharmaceutical pollution left unchecked say campaigners’ <>.

With best wishes,

Third World Network