Pharmaceuticals and the Environment – discussions in Uppsala

SWEDISH SUMMARY: Idag deltog jag som gästföreläsare på Miljö- och Vattenteknikprogrammets, å Uppsala Universitet, 20 års jubileum. Jag föreläste om läkemedel och miljö generellt och diskuterade mer specifikt olika vägar som läkemedelssubstanser kan komma ut i vattenmiljön, samt vad man kan göra för att förhindra detta.


Guest lecturer at Uppsala University

Guest lecturer at Uppsala University

Today I particated as guest lecturer at Uppsala University during the 20 year anniversary of ”the School of Environment and Water Technology”. My topic was pharmaceuticals and environmental issues in general but specifically on how active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) may end up in the water environment and what can be done to avoid that.

On APIs and their ways to the water environment, we discussed three main routes as you might be able to see in the picture above taken by student Fredrik Lagermalm (thanks Fredrik!):

1. Excretion of pharmaceutical substances and metabolites from patients
- Intense discussions in Sweden since 2003/2004
For more details on this matter I recommend you to read at LIF’s web site (Association of the Research-based Pharmaceutical Industry in Sweden) web site and via this link to the world unique environmental classification scheme of APIs.

2. Releases of pharmaceutical substances from manufacturing operations
- Several reports from Swedish researcher Joakim Larsson (University of Gothenburg) on releases from the WWTP in Patancheru, India (from 2007 and onwards).
For more info on this you could read the blog post from e.g. Aug 16, 2010

3. Unused medicines
- Have been addressed by LIF and stakeholders in several nation wide campaigns since the 90´ies
- NOT regarded a significant contributor to pharmaceuticals in the environment in Sweden. The issue is “under good control”
For more info on this I recommend that you read the Swedish MPA report on cassation of medicines.

As you may guess we discussed both end-of-pipe type of solutions, i.e. waste water techniques such as actvated carbon and oxidation processes, as well as ”up-stream oriented” solutions, e.g. sustainability assessments of pharmaceuticals and economic incentives to products that meet the requirements in the assessment model. When it comes to the discussion on incentives and assessment model I urge you to read more via these links to the Swedish National Pharmaceutical Strategy (NLS 7.1 and NLS 7.2) or in some of my previous blog posts on the issue (e.g. Jan 29).

As always, great fun meeting the students and discuss with them. Thanks to Fredrik and his friends for inviting me!


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