Bengt Mattson

Today a new phase started in the work process of the All Party Committee on Environmental Objectives (in Swedish: Miljömålsberedningen). There has been a number of meetings with the All Party Committee (parts of the committee or the whole committee) previously where I have had the opportunity to participate (see blog posts from Sept 2, June 15, June 7, and June 2). And today we had the first meetings in the Expert Groups, supporting the All Party Committee in their work on the objective "A Non-Toxic Environment". There are three expert groups, working in three different areas which have been identified as being of specific interest to the All Party Committee:

- Environmental Impact from Pharmaceuticals

- Hazardous substances in food

- Hazardous substances in goods and products (including cosmetics and hygiene products)

I am a member of the pharmaceutical expert team. The group consists of representatives from several stakeholders, e.g. ministries and agencies, industry, academia, county councils, and pharmacies. The kick-off of the work today became an interesting discussion. Every member of the team described his/her perspective on the topic Pharmaceuticals and the Environment. Although many of us pinpointed the same ongoing initiatives within the area, priorities could vary and we do have somewhat different perspectives on the initiatives (as could be expected bearing in mind our different affiliations). Examples of the initiatives discussed today:

- The initiatives on pharmaceuticals and the environment discussed in the National Pharmaceutical Strategy

- MistraPharma, which will be extremely important to provide knowledge and understanding of environmental impact, but also to learn more on appropriate waste water technologies.

- Economic incentives for green pharmaceuticals (read more in blog posts from e.g. March 28, and Feb 23), and the work to find relevant green criteria possible to use in a model for certifying green products (read more in my blog posts from Sept 1, May 17, and May 11)

- Swedish MPA’s proposal of inclusion of environmental requirements into GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) (read more in e.g. this blog post: Jan 5)

- Environmental classification of pharmaceutical substances on fass.se

As you may have seen in the end of my blog post from Sept 1, I think there are two key issues worth remembering: 1. Never deny a patient valuable medical treatment due to environmental reasons. Patient safety shall always come first. 2. Possibly the most important thing the All Party Committee on Environmental Objectives could do regarding pharmaceuticals and environment is actually to secure that the “right political signals for action” are being sent, so the initiatives outlined above really happens!

One important task for the expert group in the months to come (the work shall be ready in February 2012) is to try prioritizing between the different initiatives and identify where political actions are most crucial. We shall also propose milestones (measureable and with dead lines) to facilitate implementation of the initiatives/strategies. It will be a very interesting work!

I have to say that I find it extremely fun, fascinating, and positive that the discussions on pharmaceuticals and the environment finally receive such high political interest. I have worked in the field since the 90'ies, and finally we start to see some real interesting progress. Soon we might see green pharmaceutical products in the pharmacies, and a government that actually gives green incentives to the "good actors" and the "good products" in this sector. Sweden has a clear opportunity to show leadership here. The coming 6 months will be so interesting!

Bengt Mattson