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EAHP opinion on pharmaceuticals in the environment
  1. Stephanie Kohl
  1. Policy & Advocacy, European Association of Hospital Pharmacists, Brussels 1200, Belgium
  1. Correspondence to Ms Stephanie Kohl, Policy & Advocacy, European Association of Hospital Pharmacists, Brussels 1200, Belgium; Stephanie.Kohl{at}

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Hospital pharmacists are concerned about the negative effects of pharmaceuticals both on the environment itself as well as on animals, humans and patients. Consequently, the European Association of Hospital Pharmacists (EAHP) welcomes the adoption of the Communication on a European Union Strategic Approach to Pharmaceuticals in the Environment. COM(2019) 128 final. Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council and the European Economic and Social Committee: ‘European Union Strategic Approach to Pharmaceuticals in the Environment’. Available at:

It is noted that standards to prevent environmental contamination are not complied with at all production sites, especially those that are situated beyond Europe’s borders. Responsibility has to be taken to ensure that drugs and their components distributed and used in the European Union (EU) are produced without avoidable environmental pollution. Measures supporting the uptake of greener manufacturing and the improvement in the design and implementation of environmental risk assessment are a good step in the right direction and should be pursued in a timely and transparent manner by the European Commission (EC).

Some drugs are not metabolised and degraded into inactive substances by patients or animals treated with these drugs. For example, some antimicrobials, hormones, cytotoxic agents or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may be partly excreted unchanged and remain pharmacologically active. The consequences of environmental contamination may be significant, for example, active antimicrobials may induce and trigger antimicrobial resistance in patients and/or animals, thus impeding the national, European and global investments underway in the field of antimicrobial resistance. The need to minimise these negative consequences is of utmost importance and EAHP fully supports the measures put forward by the EC on the reduction and management of waste. A multistakeholder approach addressing, on the one …

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  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.