Drugs we don’t use

09 Sep 2014 2min read

A recent post in the UK’s Guardian newspaper caught my eye. I’d always thought (inasmuch as I’d given it any thought at all) that the drugs we take for illness are to a large extent metabolised by the body. Any waste we excrete would be a trace and of no consequence to anyone.

Actually, it seems that “Around 80% of aquatic pharmaceutical pollution comes from domestic medicines…” and not all of that is good! While the anti-anxiety drug oxazepam has a potentially beneficial effect, apparently extending the lifespan of perch, on the whole we’d be right to be concerned.

Much of the pollution can be dealt with at the far end of the pipe – removed before returned as drinking water – but emphasis is now being placed on “eco-directed sustainable prescribing”, which means that doctors will choose drugs that are more effectively metabolised, whilst being aware of the metabolic product’s and the parent compound’s effect on the environment.

I wonder whether we’d ever see the pharmaceutical equivalent of the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (the WEEE Directive… pun intended), which was designed to make manufacturers financially or physically responsible for their equipment at the end of its life.

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