The negative impact of medicines’ waste across the continuum of use is increasing globally due to changes in population demographics, population migrations, urbanization and diminishing clean-water supplies. The impact is exacerbated by a general lack of awareness of the issue by society. Through-out the pharmaceuticals supply chain efforts are being made to mitigate the negative environmental impact of pharmaceuticals. However, as we seek better solutions it is critical that these actions not compromise the availability of medicines and patient access to these medicines. Meeting these needs is of outmost importance.
Pharmaceuticals impact on the environment is a global challenge, in which individual pharmacists and their professional associations can make a difference. To make the difference it is important that pharmacists accept professional responsibility for the entire medication-use process and take responsibility for mitigating the environmental risk of the medicines for which we are responsible. This responsibility extends across the entire drug-use continuum of manufacturing and distribution, prescribing, dispensing, pharmaceutical care, disposal of unused medication and ultimately reduction in metabolic waste discharge into the environment. Regardless of place or country of employment, pharmacists should seek to change the medication-use process so as to minimize adverse environmental effects of the medicines.
By recognizing pharmacist’s role and accepting the professional challenge of reducing the environmental impact of the medications for which pharmacists are responsible, the profession can provide meaningful leadership in an area that is virtually devoid of leadership. FIP believes that its Member Organisations and Individual Members are positioned to provide this needed leadership toward resolving many of the issues surrounding pharmaceuticals in the environment.
Against this background FIP recommends that:
Environmental aspects are integrated in:
1. The curriculas of pharmaceutical education
2. To the research and development processes of new medicines
3. To the administrative and legislative processes concerning medicines
4. To the different practice areas of pharmacists
In addition, Member Organisations should:
5. Take the lead on raising general awareness of public and other health care professionals on this issue.
6. Together with individual pharmacists, provide leadership in resolving the environmental issues resulting from medicines and their use.
7. Raise awareness in the pharmacist and consumer communities, of the environmental issues surrounding medicines.
8. Develop and promote use of green-office concepts and consumer-friendly pharmaceutical-waste disposal and take-back programs for pharmacist practices.
Faculties of pharmacies should:
9. Integrate the teaching of green principles, pharmacists responsibility and the role of the pharmacist in educating patients on waste disposal in pharmaceutical curricula and as a part of pharmaceutical care.
10. Implement green-chemistry practices in all research and manufacturing processes.
11. Collaborate with prescribers to raise their awareness about the use of environmental classification of medicines in their practices, where available.
12. Use environmentally-friendly procedures in procurement and distribution processes.
13. Work with allied-health professions to encourage rational prescribing practices such as starter doses, and limiting number of doses prescribed and dispensed to reasonable amounts
14. Work to provide counselling on environmental impact and risk of all medications as an integral part of medical and pharmacy practices.
15. Perform appropriate environmental risk assessment as part of the registration process to secure proper handling of each medicine.
16. Promote and support international availability of environmental hazard data on medicines for those jurisdictions wishing to develop a national environmental-risk classification of pharmaceuticals program.
Other FIP Statements which have relevance for this Statement include:
FIP/WHO Joint Guidelines on Good Pharmacy Practice – Standards for Quality Services (2011, Hyderabad)
FIP Centennial Declaration (2012, Amsterdam)