HCWH Europe reaction to EC Roadmap on pharmaceuticals in the environment

HCWH Europe welcomes the recent European Commission (EC) release of the Roadmap addressing the challenging issue of pharmaceuticals in the environment. Released on the 28th April, the Roadmap is now open for feedback from all interested stakeholders until 26th May 2017.

The publication of the Roadmap is in line with the requirement of  Article 8c of Directive 2013/39/EU on environmental quality standards in the field of water policy, which amends Directive 2008/105/EC. The Roadmap states that the EC should develop a “strategic approach to the pollution of water by pharmaceutical substances, and to follow this, where appropriate, with proposals for measures to be taken at Union and/or Member State level to address the possible environmental impacts of pharmaceutical substances, with a view to reducing their release into the aquatic environment.”

The newly adopted Roadmap acknowledges the environmental impact and the possible consequences of the presence of pharmaceuticals in the environment. It also acknowledges the need to extend the scope of measures to tackle pharmaceutical pollution, by addressing not only pollution of water, but also soil and other environment compartments. The Roadmap also states that policy options presented in a forthcoming strategic approach (due in 2018) may include measures to address pharmaceutical pollution throughout the lifecycle of pharmaceuticals (i.e. in their production, use, and disposal). HCWH Europe very much welcomes this approach.

However, HCWH Europe regrets that current Roadmap does not already identify options to tackle the problem of pharmaceuticals in the environment and does not refer to the associated problem of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) building up in the environment.

The next important step at EU-level will be the identification of policy options and eventually possible policy measures to be included in the Strategic Approach.

After the four-week public consultation on the Roadmap, the EC will open a 12-week public consultation with relevant stakeholders to receive feedback on a study carried out by Deloitte to address possible policy options to be taken into consideration by the EC in developing their Strategic Approach.

We hope that, as Directive 2013/39/EU requires, the possible policy options and measures that will eventually be proposed in the context of the Strategic Approach will take into account public health needs, and will protect both the environment and human health.

Only concrete measures with clear targets and reporting mechanisms will lead to a reduction of pharmaceutical pollution. It is now vital that we move from discussion to concrete measures to protect human health and the environment.

For more information regarding HCWH Europe’s position on this issue, please check out our Position Paper on pharmaceuticals in the environment.

Visit our Safer Pharma campaign website today to find out more about pharmaceuticals in the environment and what you can do to help.


Preview image: Jamie via Flickr cc