204576 PharmEcovigilance and the Environmental Footprint of Pharmaceuticals

Tuesday, November 10, 2009: 2:35 PM

Ilene Sue Ruhoy, MD, PhD , Touro University School of Medicine, Henderson, NV
Christian G. Daughton, PhD , US Environmental Protection Agency, Las Vegas, NV
The prescribing of medications have ramifications extending far beyond conventional medical care. The healthcare industry has an environmental footprint because the active ingredients from pharmaceuticals enter the environment as pollutants, primarily from excretion, bathing, and disposal. This presentation presents an examination of secondary routes of API release to the environment and for direct but unintentional human exposure. These routes include: (a) bathing, washing, and laundering, and (b) disposal of unused and partially used high-content medical devices. Understanding these secondary routes is important from the perspective of pollution prevention, as well as for reducing the incidence of unintentional and purposeful poisonings of humans and pets, and for improving the quality and cost-effectiveness of healthcare.

A broad spectrum of actions can be taken by physicians and the healthcare community at large to reduce the release and introduction of medication ingredients to the environment. Most significantly, however, nearly any action taken to reduce their introduction to the environment can also have collateral benefits regarding the cost and quality of healthcare and therapeutic outcomes. Existing pharmacovigilance monitoring programs designed to detect and prevent adverse drug reactions could be expanded to also focus on the adverse impacts from drugs in the environment. Such a program has been termed pharmEcovigilance (doi: 10.2165/0002018-200831120-00004). A major reason for the medical community to implement a pharmEcovigilance program - - beyond reducing its environmental footprint - - could be the previously unforeseen benefits in optimization of delivery, effectiveness, and cost of healthcare.

Learning Objectives:
Discuss PharmEcovigilance and its benefits. Understand the sources of pharmaceutical presence in the environment. Examine secondary routes of pharmaceutical compound release to the environment. Discuss the direct but unintentional exposure as a consequence of pharmaceutical release to the environment.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have received my PhD in the area of pharmaceutical in the environment, have published papers on the topics I am presenting, and am an MD with a clinical training backgroud.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.