An emerging concern on water quality is the prevention of pharmaceuticals entering the aquatic environment. The majority of pharmaceuticals in the environment are a result of excretions from patients being treated with the medicines and improper disposal of unused or expired medicine. Relatively small quantities can come from drug manufacturing effluents and R&D facilities. We actively manage pharmaceutical discharges, including antibiotics, from our own and our supplier production sites. For example, at our NTO site in Targu Mures, Romania, we have built a new wastewater treatment plant, equipped with the latest carbon-filter technology to better purify water from active pharmaceutical ingredients.
In addition, we aim to engage with local communities and educate them on appropriate use and disposal of medicines, especially antibiotics. For example, through our Healthy Family programs in India and Africa, we educate rural communities on water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) antimicrobial resistance and safe disposal of medicines.
In Europe, we participate in Medsdisposal, a joint initiative between European healthcare, industry and student organizations for safe disposal of unused medicine. The initiative aims to raise awareness on how to dispose medicines appropriately and provides information on current disposal schemes available across European countries. In the US, the MED Project, of which Novartis is a member, facilitates cooperative efforts among pharmaceutical producers to address the collection and disposal of unwanted pharmaceutical products from households. It operates community-level pharmaceutical product stewardship take-back programs in compliance with and as mandated by legislation.
Our progress in this area is included in the AMR Industry Alliance report and the Access to Medicine Foundation AMR Benchmark report.