EC to reward NGOs that identify API manufacturers that pollute

By Gareth Macdonald contact

- Last updated on GMT

iStock/kgtoh
iStock/kgtoh

Related tags: European union, European commission

Organisations that identify API manufacturers whose manufacturing activities spread antimicrobial resistance will be considered alongisde other NGOs for a new European Commission award.

The Commission launched the EU Health Award last week calling on non-governmental organisations (NGO) to share details of initiatives in infection prevention, appropriate use of antimicrobials and active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) production.

The role production plays in furthering the spread of antimicrobial resistance has been a focus of research in recent years, with much of the work being conducted by non-industry groups.

For example, in July an organisation called SumOfUs​ released research which indicated that pollution from API production is furthering the spread of AMR.

The organisation called on the pharmaceutical industry to source only from suppliers that are committed to clean manufacturing and suggested that environmental credentials should be considered during site GMP assessments.

Similarly, Spanish NGO Ecologistas​ picketed a recent industry event and accused the drug industry of “fuelling the rise of AMR” by sourcing from low cost producers without considering the environmental impact of their operations.

Industry response

We put these concerns about manufacturing to the ABPI which told us “the role of the environment in the development of AMR is still unclear and whatever action is taken must be done so with the priority of ensuring patients across the world have uninterrupted access to life-saving antibiotics​.”

Others in the industry are less circumspect.

API supplier DSM-Sinochem told attendees at DCAT in New York​ that API firms which do not treat wastewater to cut costs are distorting the market and spreading antibiotic resistance.

Lucas Wiarda, head of DSM Sinochem’s sustainable antibiotics programme, reiterated this point and telling us his firm welcomed the new European Commission award.

We welcome this initiative from the European Commission. It highlights the role NGOs can play in our fight against AMR. We agree that NGOs can be instrumental in informing the public on the responsible use of antibiotics, calling the industry to develop new ones, but also in addressing malpractices and irresponsible behaviour leading to unnecessary Antibiotics pollution.

At the same time, we also feel the need for close cooperation between NGOs, governments and the industry to develop concrete solutions that fight antimicrobial resistance on all three dimensions of the problem: misuse in humans, misuse in animals and pollution from production​.”

Beyond manufacturing

Outside API manufacturing, other NGOs have focused on how the drug industry impacts the use of antibiotics and antimicrobials.

For example, Amsterdam-based Health Action International (HAI) suggested the ABPIs backing for a G7 leaders’ pledge to preserve existing anti-infective agents through appropriate use is at odds with marketing practices​.

NGOs interested in the award have until July 31 to submit their enteries.

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