Today I participated in yet another seminar regarding the Miljömålsberedningen (in English roughly "Environmental Goal Review"), and their work on the environmental goal "A Non-Toxic Environment" and pharmaceuticals. To get updated on the discussions from last week's seminar see my blog post from June 2. Today's seminar was hosted by the right-wing political coalition's ("Alliansens") representatives in Miljömålsberedningen:
- Lars Hjälmered (m)
- Irene Oscarsson (kd)
- Roger Tiefensee (c)
- Anita Brodén (fp)
Anita opened the seminars with the following words: "Pharmaceuticals are extremely important, and we need to manage any potential negative effects, e.g. environmental impacts. Miljömålsberedningen will look into both national and international initiatives"
Joakim Larsson was invited to give the background to environmental risks from pharmaceuticals, and gave of course some detailed information on releases from pharmaceutical manufacturing in India. To read more on that, see e.g. my blog post from Aug 16 last year.
Joakim was very clear in his conclusions: "We all have a responsibility here, and we need to collaborate on the issue". He summarized the challenges with this slide:
It may be somewhat problematic to read... In summary the slide shows
- We need to identify the critical substances
- Discussions on "environmental relevant concentrations" and "environmental quality standards"
- Under which circumstances are the drugs that we consume manufactured
- The development of green economic incentives
- The risks for anti-microbial resistance
After Joakim, Matilda Holst from LIF (the Swedish Association of the Research Based Pharmaceutical Industry) gave the industry perspective on the pharmaceuticals in the environment issues.
Matilda told us among other things about two LIF initiatives:
- Environmental Classification of Pharmaceutical Substances on Fass.se
- LIF Round Table on green criteria and green incentives (read my blog posts from March 28, April 20, May 11, and May 17)
The industry perspective was also elaborated upon by Cecilia de Pedro from AstraZeneca. Cecilia gave AstraZeneca's view and was as clear as Gisela Holm on last week's seminar (see blog post from June 2) that the industry works hard and focused on all different issues around pharmaceuticals in the environment. The programs of course include both emissions related to excretion from patients, and releases from manufacturing operations around the globe.
After a short break a panel was gathered consisting of
Charlotte Unger (Environmental Manager at Swedish MPA)
- Mikael Karlsson (Chairman of SNF, the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation)
- Margareta Olsson Birgersson (Medical Director, sanofi-aventis AB)
I was very happy to see that also the panellists seemed to agree on what needs to be done. Everyone talked about collaboration, about the need for more research (e.g. on combination effects), about international initiatives as well as national ones. The latter was often exemplified with changes to the pricing and re-imbursement system, including the generic reform. Mikael gave us a list on SNF's wishes when it comes to pharmaceuticals and a "Non-Toxic Environment Goal 2.0". Some examples from the list were:
- increased testing, and more relevant test methods (i.e. not only acute tox tests)
- do not only test new substances, we need to increase the knowledge about the old ones to
- combination effects must be evaluated
- environmental risk asessments should be part of the authorization process and the risk/benefit analysis for pharmaceuticals
- inclusion of environmental criteria into GMP
- incentives incorporated to the pricing and re-imbursement system
- public procurement an important tool to further develop
- potential upgrade of waste water treatment plants
Obviously things to discuss, but I am very positive since the discussion climate is very positive and open. And actually already June 15, we will have yet another seminar on the topic. That time it will be together with the Conferederation of Swedish Enterprises. So stay tuned - more to come!