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European Parliament demands action on pharmaceuticals in the environment

The Plenary of the European Parliament adopted the resolution on the Strategic Approach on the Pharmaceuticals in the Environment with 671 votes to 15 and 10 abstentions.

MEPs recognised the need for urgent measures to address the pharmaceutical residues pollution causing negative impacts on ecosystems and increasing antimicrobial resistance.

The final text presents two minor modifications compared to the text adopted by the ENVI Committee:

  1. An amendment tabled in Plenary by the Greens on the addition of the assessment of the risks stemming from PBT substances next to the effects from the mix of substances was adopted (para 39).  
  2. As a result of a split vote, para 15 has been modified as following: “Believes that existing and self-regulated initiatives should be analysed and, where appropriate, considered in future EU initiatives on pharmaceuticals in the environment” with the elimination of "as models" in the ENVI text. 

MEPs recognised that measures to reduce the pollution should not only include end-of-pipe controls such as extra-treatment at the Urban Waste Water Treatment Plants, but must encompass the entire life cycle of drugs, from design and production to disposal.

The European Parliament calls for a a clear road map for completing the environmental risk assessments when they are not available and "considers that the environmental impacts of pharmaceuticals should be included in the benefit-risk assessment of human medicines, as is already the case for veterinary medicines, provided that marketing authorisations are not delayed nor refused solely on the grounds of adverse environmental impacts". 

Other actions are requested from additional waste water treatment in the pharmaceutical production plants to improved waste management measures (take-back schemes).

Furtheromore MEPs call on the Commission to present a legislative proposal to review and update Directive 86/278/EEC on sewage sludge by no later than the end of 2021, "in order to update quality standards in accordance with the latest scientific evidence and to promote a circular economy which does not harm human health and the environment".

We hope that promt, concrete and effective actions will be taken by DG SANTE and DG ENVIRONMENT together, following the adoption of this resolution in order to protect citizens health and the environment! 



Water matters. EU matters. 








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