13 mei 2016
Integrated approach to healthcare and the environmental sector required against medication residue
Medication residue is in addition to, for example, plant protection products and emissions from manure a threat to the quality of surface water and groundwater. The quantity of medication residue in sources for drinking water is increasing, which has harmful consequences for the environment, for example, for fish. Drinking water companies must take more purification steps and deploy more advanced technologies to filter these substances from water.
The National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) published a report on 10 May in which it advocates an integrated approach to prevent further damage to the environment. This approach entails that healthcare and the environmental sector must be aware of their interrelation. The report, 'Towards balancing the benefits of pharmaceutical care and minimising its environmental harm, Identification of potential levers in the medicinal product chain', maps out the relation between medication use and the environment and describes the entire process from medication development to medication waste in the environment.
The RIVM sees opportunities to limit medication residue in water through information exchange and financial measures. Drinking water companies and water authorities can more easily purify if they know which substances there are in water and information about environmental harm can be included when new medication is developed. If patients and care providers know more about the damage of medication to the environment, they can take this into account when making their choices. The RIVM also mentions setting up financial incentives to stimulate that patients, for example, take back medication that will no longer be used to the chemist.
Vewin believes the source approach has the highest priority with regard to medication residue because, what is not in the water, does not have to be filtered out either. We endorse an integrated approach where all parties within the medication and water chain are involved.
Read the report of the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) (in English)
Read our position about medication residue in drinking water sources (in Dutch)