I have today acted both as moderator and lecturer in a Pharmaceuticals and the Environment session at Läkemedelskongressen, arranged by the Swedish Academy of Pharmaceutical Sciences. It has definitely been an interesting day. It started with introductory remarks by Anders Blanck, managing director for LIF (the research based pharmaceutical industry in Sweden). Anders said something very thought worthy about good, safe and rational use of pharmaceuticals. Of course he stressed the importance of providing the correct medicine and dosage, at the right time, to the right patient, but he also stressed the importance of the price of the medicine, equal care and treatment, and not the least environmental impacts. This was of course a prefect introduction to today's key note address from Joakim Larsson from Sahlgrenska Akademin, at University of Gothenborg.
I have mentioned Joakim's research several times here at the blog. See for instance the following blog posts: Aug 16 2010, Jan 20 2011, Feb 18 2011, and Jul 4 2011. Joakim gave as always a very interesting, and horryfying, description of the situation at the Patancheru waste water treatment plant outside Hyderabad, in India. He decribed the risks with releases of active pharmaceuticals ingridients to the environment, focusing on the risks for antimicrobial resistance development. He also stressed the importance of collaborations between all parties in order to manage the situation.
He finished the key note speech with a slide summarizing the challenges:
As a moderator for the break-out session focusing in more detail on pharmaceuticals and the environment I then gave a short summary on "what is going on" in EU and here in Sweden when it comes to pharmaceuticals in the environment, e.g.:
- EU Water Framework Directive, which may come to include specific pharmaceutical substances
- The EU Pharmas project
- The MistraPharma project
- The Swedish MPA proposal on inclusion of environmental requirements into GMP
- The All Party Committee on Environmental Objectives
- The National Pharmaceutical Strategy
- Sofia Wallström's review
After the my introduction, Åke Wennmalm from SustainPharma (and previously environemntal director att Stockholm County Council) gave us some detailed insight in environmental risk assessments on pharmaceuticals substances. You can read more on this link to the classification scheme on fass.se.
Åke also added some of our latests thoughts upon environmental assessments of the whole products. This has been the topic for several discussions during the last 6 months (see blog posts from Sept 28, Sept 1, May 17, May 11, and March 28).
In order for the industry to provide "green products" it is of greatest importance to utilize a green chemistry toolbox. Eva Jacobsson from AstraZeneca helped us to realize the large opportunities in green chemistry when it comes to lower the environmental impacts from manufacturing operations.
Eva gave us very good insight in AstraZeneca's work processes to greening the manufacturing processes, as early as possible during the development phase.
But she also discussed Green Drug Design, very interesting. However really difficult... Could we possibly be successful in desiging the substances perfectly from an environmental point of view from the beginning, e.g. easily degradable substances, with low toxicity and no potential for bioaccumulation?
We then expanded our scope of discussion by looking into another industrial sector - textile and clothing. As always it was a real pleasure to listen to Renée Andersson from Indiska.
I have listened to Renée's experiences from her work with Indiska's supply chain several times before (see for instance my blog post from Aug 26, 2010) and it is my clear opinion that we as an industry have a lot to learn from Indiska and their peers. Which is not really surprising since they have been dealing with these issues, in very much detail, years before it came up high on our industry agenda.
It was then my turn to enter the stage as a lecturer. I tried both to summarize reflections from the previous speakers, and to look into the future. What are our challenges of tomorrow, and what will our agenda look like in the coming 10 years?
My final, summarizing slide was this one, where I discuss several aspects of pharmaceuticals and the environment which I believe will be crucial for our future success.
A very interesting day, with good presentations and discussions!