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Special Interest Groups - Ecopharmacovigilance Group

Ecopharmacovigilance Group

The ISoP Special Interest Group on Ecopharmacovigilance
“Safer environment for a healthier tomorrow”

Background

The environmental damage caused by the improper disposal and spillage of medicines is currently considered a major problem. However, there is no adequate measurement of the impact and scope of this problem on public health and the environment. The ISoP Special Interest Group on Ecopharmacovigilance was successfully launched during the General Assembly in Verona held in September 2022 under the leadership of Dr Jerin Jose Cherian and Dr Melissa Bernal.
In the last few decades, there has been an increasing trend in the development and consumption of medicines and cosmetic products for human use. In the U.S., a total of 6.3 billion prescriptions were dispensed in 2020, while the European Union (EU), as the second biggest consumer in the world, is estimated to consume 24% of the world´s medicines. Those medicines that are consumed (or discarded) sometimes will end up in the environment eventually. As an essential product, medicines purchased by government agencies, pharmacies and consumers are often over-purchased or not fully consumed. Unfortunately, there are not always regulations or adequate knowledge of the impact of improper disposal of these products on the environment.

There have been several research articles that have covered different ways on how to measure the environmental damage and proposed several ideas to minimize the impact. However, effective strategies have not been adopted on a large scale to minimize the environmental effects of medicines throughout the supply chain from production to disposal. In addition, a major issue is the poor regulation in most countries with insufficient knowledge and understanding among various stakeholders. The problem is magnified further if dietary supplements, medical devices, veterinary medicines, and the cosmetics industry, as well as the packaging used for all these products, are all included in this analysis of environmental impact.

There is an urgent demand to measure the impact, understand the current picture of the problem of unintended environmental exposure to pharmaceuticals. We need to start proposing activities to increase awareness between the different stakeholders through education and training.

Novelty of SIG

● Ecopharmacovigilance is an ignored specialty because of the poor awareness of the impact of medicines on the environment.
● There is scope to undertake advocacy, research, and policy analysis in this domain and develop training and education for all stakeholders.

Vision

To harness the collective efforts of individuals and organizations to mitigate the environmental impact of pharmaceutical products.
Mission:
● To ensure the safe use and disposal of medicines in such a way as to have a minimal environmental impact
● To bring experts in pharmacovigilance together with other relevant stakeholders to understand and mitigate the environmental impact of medicines

Objectives

● To create opportunities for those researching and advocating for ecopharmacovigilance
● To act as a platform to facilitate dialogue between various stakeholders
● To support regulatory authorities’ policy advice on ecopharmacovigilance
● To organize and/or support training and conferences in the domain of ecopharmacovigilance
● To provide a neutral and impartial forum for all stakeholders including patients and industry to ask questions related to ecopharmacovigilance and obtain answers within a reasonable timeline.
● To communicate current activities and provide a forum for discussion and generation of new research and ideas leveraging social media and/or other communication platforms.

Expected outcomes

● To compile a global repository of various legislation, regulation, and policy statements in the domain of ecopharmacovigilance
● Publications on various aspects of ecopharmacovigilance including a working definition, review of regulations, legislations, etc.
● Organize conference/forum under ISoP
● Develop a basic course/ curriculum on ecopharmacovigilance for all interested persons
● Advocacy and awareness of ecopharmacovigilance using social media and other platforms
● Develop relationships with other interested stakeholders (e.g., US environmental protection agency)

Stakeholders

Universities and other interested parties
● Regulatory agencies
● Pharmaceutical industry
● Pharmacies
● Patient groups and civil society

Activities

● Identifying experts and attracting them to join the SIG
● Review of literature to identify a definition for ecopharmacovigilance
● Review of literature to compile various legislation in the domain of ecopharmacovigilance
● Weekly meetings of the Core Group members since July 2021
● Presentation on ecopharmacovigilance at the Middle East chapter of ISoP on 9th October 2021
● Interviewing stakeholders in EcoPV to find out more about their activities (types of waste, regulations that are used, challenges involved, way forward, etc.)
● Participation in the review of a document of the Kenyan Association of Pharmaceutical Industries regarding pharmaceutical waste management rules which the Health Authority intends to convert into a guideline
● Presented at ISoP 2022 Annual conference in Verona regarding the ongoing and future activities of the SIG and invited interested members to join.

You can view Prof. Ralph Edwards’s lecture in memory of Prof Gianpaolo Velo by clicking the link here (available soon). The presentation was given during the 21st ISoP Annual Meeting in September 2022 in Verona.

SIG Core Group members

CORE TEAM
• Dr. Melissa Bernal, Colombia – isop.ecopv@gmail.com
• Dr. JJ Cherian, India –  isop.ecopv@gmail.com
• Dr. Joan Dsouza, Switzerland
• Dr. Jayesh Pandit, Kenyad
• Mr. Ernest Dela Dzidzornu, Ghana

If you would like to join the ISoP Ecopharmacovigilance Group, please contact Dr Melissa Bernal and JJ Cherian by e-mail at: administration@isoponline.org or isop.ecopv@gmail.com