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Future Policy Award 2021: Colombia - Environmentally Persistent Pharmaceutical Pollutants

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Future Policy Award 2021: Colombia - Environmentally Persistent Pharmaceutical Pollutants

Despite the fact that pharmaceuticals are indispensable for human and animal health, they may cause undesired adverse effects. Specifically, environmentally persistent pharmaceutical pollutants (EPPPs) are slowly degradable or nondegradable, presenting a special risk when they enter, persist or disseminate in the environment. Colombia’s Resolution 371, addressing EPPPs, was awarded for regulating waste management from hazardous products.

The World Future Council focuses on identifying, developing, highlighting and spreading effective, future-just solutions for current challenges humanity is facing and promote their implementation worldwide. The Future Policy Award 2021 highlights exemplary laws and policies that protect people and the environment from hazardous chemicals. The Future Policy Award is awarded in partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM), among others. For more information on the Future Policy Award 2021 click here.

The Special Award Environmentally Persistent Pharmaceutical Pollutants was awarded to Colombia’s Resolution 371, which regulates waste management from hazardous products through the polluters pay principle. This means that manufacturers and importers of pharmaceuticals and medications must manage properly the disposal of expired medicines and cover the costs of implementation. Around 4,000 active pharmaceutical ingredients are being administered worldwide in prescription medicines, over-the-counter drugs, and veterinary drugs. While pharmaceuticals are stringently regulated for efficacy and patient safety, the adverse side effects they may have in the natural environment are a growing topic of concern. In 2009, Colombia introduced Resolution 371 as part of the national policy for regulating waste management from hazardous products. The Resolution’s remarkable feature is that it places the responsibilities and costs of implementation on the manufacturers and importers of pharmaceuticals and medications, in line with the ‘polluter pays’ principle. By 2018, a total of 711 manufacturers and importers participated in the policy, corresponding to 95 percent of the market share. Moreover, a total of 2,593 take-back points had been established to collect medicines, covering 70 percent of the population, and more than 930 tons of medicines had already been properly disposed of. As such, the Resolution represents the first successful compulsory medicine disposal programme in Latin America, which inspires neighbouring countries to develop similar approaches. For more information click here.

For more information about the Future Policy Award and this year’s winners read the brochure.