EU puts 3 pharma chemicals on emissions 'watch list'

These days, many drugmakers build plants with the idea of leaving the softest imprint possible on the planet. Still, there are emissions from the manufacturing processes and some of those have raised concerns in recent years, particularly as to how wastewater may be affecting aquatic life. With that in mind, Europe has decided to watch the wastewater for three pharmaceutical compounds from drug manufacturers that may create environmental issues. 

While drugmakers managed to keep the compounds off of Europe's priority list, there is pressure to do more about the waste generated in pharma manufacturing. According to PMLive, the three are the generic painkiller diclofenac, which is suspected of killing fish, and the hormones 17 alpha-ethinylestradiol (EE2) and 17 beta-estradiol (E2). The European Commission says those hormones have the potential to interfere with the endocrine system in humans and create problems with reproduction in fish.

The industry argued that the science on their potential risks was not "robust" enough to put them on a priority list of 33 chemicals that must be monitored in rivers, lakes and other bodies of water along the coast. That monitoring helps determine legal limits of discharge. But PMLive reports that not everyone was pleased that the three will be more carefully watched but not more carefully controlled. Austrian Member of Parliament Richard Seeber said "our waters are unfortunately increasingly burdened with pharmaceuticals." And the European Federation of National Associations of Water Services (EUREAU), which represents wastewater workers, criticized the compromise and suggested the EU needs to stop potential pollution at the plant level, not try to deal with it in wastewater treatment. 

The EU is not the only place where pharma plant pollution has been top of mind. Pfizer ($PFE) subsidiary King Pharmaceuticals last month reached a settlement with federal and state authorities for pollution issues at its plant in Bristol, TN. King will pay $2.2 million and agreed to upgrade the plant to PharmaACT standards, measures specific to the pharma industry that "must be implemented to control hazardous air pollutants..." the Department of Justice said. 

King's problems date from 2006 at an older plant. Modern manufacturing facilities not only have better emissions controls but many of them are built to have a much softer impact on the environment in terms of energy use. 

- read the PMLive story