Pharmaceutical trade body EFPIA and environmental health NGO Health Care Without Harm Europe conclude Joint Debate to work towards solutions for pharmaceuticals in the environment

Brussels, 27 October 2014  – On 24 October, EFPIA and Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) Europe hosted a Joint Debate on Pharmaceuticals in the Environment (PiE) in Brussels. The event aimed to encourage a collaborative discussion on PiE that will result in concrete suggestions to help tackle this issue in a way that safeguards the environment as well as EU citizens and patients.

While medicines are of great importance to society and individuals alike, concerns have been raised over potential negative impacts from concentrations of pharmaceuticals found in water, soil and plants. Health and environmental regulators, academics and the pharmaceutical industry are committed to working together to improve understanding of PiE and their possible impact on human and environmental health – and to work towards solutions. This was the basis of the joint workshop organised by EFPIA and HCWH Europe.

Richard Bergström, Director General EFPIA, stated: “I am very pleased that we had the opportunity to collaborate with Health Care Without Harm Europe on this issue. It is important to bring our different ideas to the table early on, so that we can find realistic solutions that we can agree upon and work towards, together. We hope that the solutions will concentrate on prioritising the areas where biggest impact will occur, what is rational and doable, while looking primarily at the options within the current legislative framework. Our industry is a key stakeholder and ready to contribute. We offer solutions to address PiE in different parts of the lifecycle of a medicinal product through the Eco-Pharmaco-Stewardship scheme which we have developed.”

Anja Leetz, Executive Director HCWH Europe, “Co-hosting the PiE debate with EFPIA was an excellent opportunity to raise awareness on an issue of increasing concern. The day’s discussions highlighted the need for an improved and expanded Environmental Risk Assessment in which all pharmaceuticals on the market are assessed and the effects of long-term, continuous and multiple exposures are considered. HCWH Europe strongly advocates for such changes to be made by the Commission in the upcoming Strategic Approach. In the meantime, we continue to work to mobilise the healthcare sector to engage with this issue and help reduce pharmaceutical pollution at local level. Many of the issues raised at the PiE debate will certainly be echoed in our upcoming webinar on prescription practices for health professionals.”

The event consisted of three panels, which explored the life cycle of pharmaceuticals from an environmental perspective and solicited opinions from a variety of stakeholders:

·       Panel I: Managing Environmental Criteria in R&D, Manufacturing and Supply Chain

·       Panel II: Use of Pharmaceuticals

·       Panel III: Disposal of Pharmaceuticals

The EU Commission will present a Strategic Approach to PiE in autumn 2015. HCWH Europe and EFPIA look forward to the release of this Strategy and hope that it will reflect the complexity of PiE in full, and lay out an appropriate plan that protects European environments and citizens, while safeguarding the important medicines that help maintain and improve the health of individual patients every day.

Media Contacts:

HCWH Europe

Rosalind Simpson, Communication & Press Officer


T. +32 2503 4911 


EFPIA Communications


T. +32 2626 2555


EFPIA represents the pharmaceutical industry operating in Europe. Through its direct membership of 33 national associations and 40 leading pharmaceutical companies, EFPIA provides the voice of 1,900 companies committed to researching, developing and bringing new medicines to improve health and quality of life around the world. The pharmaceutical industry invests €30.6 billion on research and development per year in Europe and directly employs 690,000 people including 115,000 in R&D units in Europe.

EFPIA members are committed to delivering innovative medicines to address unmet needs of patients and reducing the burden of chronic diseases for Europe’s ageing population. EFPIA believes in close cooperation with its stakeholders to help create sustainable healthcare   systems and to develop prompt responses to health threats in Europe.

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About HCWH Europe

Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) Europe is the European arm of a global coalition of hospitals, healthcare systems, healthcare professionals, local authorities, research/academic institutions and environmental and health organisations. HCWH Europe currently has 75 members in 26 countries of the WHO European Region, including 17 Member States of the European Union.

HCWH Europe is working to transform the health sector so that it becomes ecologically sustainable and a leading advocate for environmental health and justice across the globe. HCWH Europe brings the voice of healthcare professionals to the European policy debate about key issues, such as chemicals, climate change and health, green building, sustainable procurement, pharmaceuticals, sustainable food and waste management.

To find out more, visit

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