Last week at a United Nations General Assembly in New York, 193 countries agreed to tackle antimicrobial resistance using strategies ranging from curbing inappropriate antibiotic use to encouraging development of new anti-infectives.
The event also saw 13 pharma firms agree to a “roadmap” of actions designed to minimize the impact drug manufacturing has on the spread of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
The roadmap requires that signatories review their supply chains and work with API suppliers to establish a common framework for assessing and managing antibiotic discharge from manufacturing sites.
Karl Rotthier, CEO of DSM Sinochem Pharmaceuticals (DSP), told us untreated waste water released into rivers by API manufacturers is increasingly recognized as a factor in AMR.
“Quantities of concentrated active compounds disposed via this route, particularly water courses downstream of production facilities, often contain significant concentrations of antimicrobial activity and risk becoming breeding grounds for resistance.”
He welcomed the roadmap – which DSP signed along with 12 other manufacturers – describing it as “a clear signal that the leading pharmaceutical companies of this world take their responsibility very seriously.”
Despite agreeing to review supply chains, none of the signatories has said it will only source APIs from suppliers that treat waste water appropriately.
Rotthier acknowledged this and said: “DSP would very much welcome such a commitment. And indeed, we believe that to effectively fight AMR from irresponsible antibiotics manufacturing, the industry should only buy APIs from manufacturers that do not pollute the environment.”
He also called for drug companies to be more open about the suppliers, explaining that roadmap signatories are considering how best to share such information.
“We believe that more transparency is needed in the supply chain. This can be achieved via either formal - or self-regulation supported by an agreed framework of manufacturing standards, science-driven and risk-based maximum/safe discharge concentrations in effluent, and a good governance model including monitoring and enforcement.
“Signatory companies of the Industry Roadmap are currently jointly assessing the modalities and stakeholders that need to be involved in defining the best possible mechanisms. In line with this, existing initiatives will also be considered, which seek to ensure sustainable manufacturing throughout the supply chain.”