Tackling pharmaceuticals in the environment and AMR in Europe

The last 30th January 2018, European Public Health Alliance (EPHA), Changing Markets Foundation and the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) organised an event titled “Joining the dots” in Brussels, Belgium. The event was hosted by Annie Schreijer-Pierik, MEP (EPP, NL) and Nicola Caputo, MEP (S&D, IT).

The evolving policy debates about Pharmaceuticals in the Environment (PIE) and Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) are closely interconnected and should not take place in separate silos. This event aimed to discuss environmental pollution caused by pharmaceutical consumption in Europe (where water bodies and entire ecosystems are under strain) and by the production process of antibiotics in third countries.

Annie Schreijer-Pierik highlighted upcoming evaluations of European water legislation and that regulations on levels of pharmaceuticals in the environment should be included in the legislation. She stated that although this threat was not monitored, increasing levels of pharmaceuticals were being detected in water not only from increased use but also increased need, e.g. due to Europe’s ageing population.

Nina Renshaw, Secretary General, European Public Health Alliance (EPHA), highlighted that “A voluntary-based approach is not enough to tackle Antimicrobial resistance. 2018 must be a turning point” and added “Europe has the purchasing power to be part of the solution. We can not manage what we do not measure: targets are needed to know more about consumption”.

Marc de Rooy, Dutch Ministry for Infrastructure and Water, reported on experiences with the Dutch chain approach, informing the audience that it was set up in 2016 to reduce pharmaceutical residues in water.  Critically, de Rooy stated that in the Netherlands, this was working well, but since the problem does not stop at national borders, similar approaches should be adopted in other member states.

In all the presentations and discussions there was no doubt that it had to be considered as being of fundamental importance of stakeholders – governments, producers, the medical community, civil society, etc. -working together in order to tack both the upcoming EU strategy on Pharmaceuticals in the Environment, as well as the implementation of the new EU One Health Action Plan against AMR.

You could get the agenda and the presentations here.