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AntiMicrobial and Antibiotic Agent Manufacturers - Accountability to The Global Public Health Situation

Scientist Concern for Pharmaceutical Products and Antimicrobial Agents Suppliers.

At a time when pharmaceuticals are used more than ever, the measures taken to assess the environmental risks attributable to these products and the efforts to reduce the pollution linked to their massive use are clearly insufficient, laments the OECD in a new report published Wednesday .

This study, published in English and entitled

“ Pharmaceutical Residues in Freshwater: Hazards and Policy Responses “,

reminds us that pharmaceutical products are constantly released into the environment from the factories that manufacture them, from the people who consume them or from those who consume them. ‘depart inadequately.

“After ingesting a drug, humans or animals excrete between 30% and 90% of its components in the form of active substances that spread through sewage systems or the environment. Some of the drugs are thrown away without having been used and end up in landfills or in sewers, ”explain the authors of the report.

As a result, residues of these products, such as hormones, antidepressants and antibiotics, have been “detected” in surface water and groundwater all over the world. “Elevated levels” have even been detected downstream from drug factories, in discharges from municipal wastewater treatment plants, which are simply not designed to treat them, or in water produced by agriculture. and aquaculture.

However, underlines the OECD, “the environmental risks associated with the great majority of some 2000 active ingredients currently used in pharmaceutical products for human or veterinary use have never been evaluated”. The organization specifies that the assessment of the “environmental toxicity” of 88% of pharmaceutical products currently in circulation suffers from shortcomings. What is more, “several dozen new active ingredients are generally approved each year”.

According to a study cited in the OECD report, it is estimated that at least 10% of pharmaceuticals, antibiotics and antimicrobial agents manufactured are likely to harm the environment. Of greatest concern would be hormones, painkillers and antidepressants.

“Since pharmaceuticals are designed to interact with living organisms in small doses, even low concentrations can harm freshwater ecosystems. There is an increasing number of data attesting to harmful impacts: analyzes carried out in the laboratory and in the field show that traces of oral contraceptives are at the origin of the feminization of fish and amphibians, and that residues of drugs used in psychiatry modify the behavior of fish ”, illustrates the OECD. In other cases, these products can interfere with the growth of certain organisms, natural behaviors or development.

The organization also warns that the presence of pharmaceutical residues is likely to increase in the coming years, in particular due to the aging of the population, economic growth and changes in medical practices. Climatic upheavals may also increase demand, due to the growth of diseases linked to the effects of global warming.

What’s more, the report projects a 67% growth in antibiotic use in global agriculture and aquaculture by 2030, compared to 2015 levels. The majority of this growth will come from emerging economies, where water treatment is often lacking.

To prevent pharmaceutical products, antibiotic and antimicrobial agent suppliers from becoming a serious “threat” to human health and the environment, the OECD suggests in particular “taking into account environmental risks in the context of product approval”, “promoting the design of pharmaceutical products that do not accumulate in the environment ”and“ sensitize the population, doctors and veterinarians to fight against excessive consumption ”

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