Workshop | A multi-stakeholder approach to pharmaceuticals in the environment

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Tuesday 12 November 2019
Rue de Spa 30, 1000 Brussels, Belgium 

Pharmaceutical pollution is increasingly recognised as a threat to ecosystems and human health globally. 771 different pharmaceutical substances have been detected in the environment worldwide. As global consumption of human and veterinary medicines increases, this problem will only get worse.

Pharmaceuticals can enter the environment at all stages of their life cycle: manufacturing discharges, excretion during use, and improper disposal. Once in the environment, pharmaceuticals can accumulate in fish, livestock, and vegetables as well as entering our drinking water.

On Tuesday, 12 November 2019, as part of the Safer Pharma programme, Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) Europe will host a one-day workshop in Brussels to look at a multi-stakeholder approach to pharmaceuticals in the environment. The event will bring together key participants from EU and international institutions, national governments, industry, civil society and academia.


Discover the programme here

Damaging both the environment and wildlife, pharmaceuticals are known to cause renal failure in vultures, impair reproduction in fish, and inhibit the growth of aquatic species. Even low amounts of pharmaceutical pollution in the environment have far reaching effects on ecosystems.

Pharmaceutical pollution is also closely linked to the worrying development and spread of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), which is annually responsible for an estimated 33,000 deaths in Europe. If no effective action is undertaken, AMR could cause 10 million deaths per year worldwide by 2050.

In March 2019, the European Commission published a Strategic Approach to Pharmaceuticals in the Environment to address this issue; and whilst lacking ambition, this communication could be the stepping stone to effective measures to reduce the risk from pharmaceuticals to the environment.

A new EU mandate brings new opportunities. Against the backdrop of the European Commission’s new “zero-pollution ambition”, this workshop will be an opportunity to assess the role of various stakeholders in tackling pharmaceutical pollution and to identify areas for action across pharmaceuticals’ life cycle.

This workshop aims to:

  • Raise awareness about pharmaceuticals in the environment as a multi-sectoral issue that needs to be addressed at multiple levels
  • Provide a shared understanding of the policy challenges for addressing pharmaceuticals in the environment
  • Identify priorities for action in follow-up to the European Commission Strategic Approach to Pharmaceuticals in the environment
  • Share best practice and identify innovative solutions that could be scaled up or replicated in other countries or regions