On 11 September 2014, the EU workshop on the development of a strategic approach to pollution of water by pharmaceutical substances, organised by the European Commission, took place in Brussels. The workshop brought together a wide range of stakeholders with the goal of facilitating constructive and transparent dialogue in order to inform the development of the Strategic Approach to the pollution of water by pharmaceuticals, which the Commission must release by September 2015.
HCWH Europe was represented by Chemicals & Pharmaceuticals Policy Officer Laurel Berzanskis and Research Assistant Cristina Grigore who promoted our position with the paper, HCWH Europe's Recommendations on Pharmaceuticals in the Environment. This advocates for better use of the environmental risk assessment procedure for pharmaceutical market authorisation, improved pharmaceutical collection schemes and development of green and sustainable pharmaceuticals.
Laurel Berzanskis also chaired a sub-group discussion on the possible options relevant to disposal of pharmaceuticals. Participants included representatives from public authorities, the pharmaceutical industry, the waste water industry and NGOs. With such a diverse panel, little consensus was reached. Particular points of contention centred on pharmaceutical takeback schemes and wastewater treatment.
Overall, while many stakeholders were able to agree that steps to address pharmaceutical pollution should be taken, there was a wide divergence in the views as to how the issue should be addressed. It was clear that there is increasing interest in the topic as over 100 attendees were present. HCWH Europe hopes that the Strategic Approach will focus on upstream solutions which can prevent pollution from the outset.
For more information on the topic of pharmaceuticals in the environment, visit: www.pharmaenvironment.org