Pharmaceuticals have become chemicals of emerging concern to the public because of their potential to reach drinking water. Looking at the overall incidence of pharmaceuticals in the aquatic environment, patient use of medicines (prescription and over the counter) is the principal pathway. Typically, a fraction of the medicines taken by patients is excreted and enters waterways. To a lesser extent, pharmaceuticals can enter the environment through improper disposal of medicines and from manufacturing discharges.
Pfizer has an active program to assess and address the issues associated with pharmaceuticals in the environment (PIE) which includes detailed wastewater assessments to ensure good environmental management of our internal operations.
We have also teamed with a number of our manufacturing suppliers to evaluate their materials handling and production equipment cleaning processes. We continue to engage our stakeholders including industry groups, the scientific community, regulatory agencies, patient groups and nongovernmental organizations to advance the knowledge of PIE.
In particular, we aim to:
- Understand the potential impacts associated with PIE.
- Ensure that manufacture, use and disposal of our medicines does not adversely affect human health or the environment.
- Advance the body of science associated with PIE.
Notable actions we undertake in managing pharmaceuticals in the environment include:
- Contributing to scientific and policy developments.
- Partnering with government agencies, academia and other stakeholders.
- Evaluating, together with other pharmaceutical companies, unused medicine disposal practices, including take-back options; and
- Participating in take-back programs in countries that require them.
Recent performance achievements include:
- Being an active participant in the pharmaceutical industry's development of the PhATE model, a scientific tool that can be used to realistically estimate the concentration and distribution of human pharmaceutical actives discharged into U.S. surface waters;
- Categorizing and completing of our first tier assessment of active pharmaceutical ingredients at our internal sites;
- Publishing a Recommended Practice that addresses manufacturing processes with detailed assessments to ensure good environmental management of our internal operations; and
- Helping suppliers evaluate materials handling and production cleaning processes at manufacturing locations.