August 27, 2014 by David Taylor


On 14th June 2014 DEFRA invited forty people from a range of sectors across research, regulators, environmental NGOs, industry and Government to discuss the issues around pharmaceuticals in the environment. The aims of the day were to stimulate debate across sectors affected by pharmaceuticals in the environment (PiE) and in so-doing to reduce the risks presented by the issue.

Although a wide range of stakeholders were present the summary report of the workshop indicated a general consensus:

  • There was agreement that the evidence base needed improvement in a number of areas, including ecotoxicological data; quality of research; and access to data.
  • Participants also considered that there was a need to improve the impact assessment of reducing pharmaceuticals in the environment, to take account of human health and societal impacts and to quantify the benefits of such action.
  • The UK should promote its expertise with the EU Commission.
  • Further work is required to identify what degree of effect to aquatic life is unacceptable (e.g. individual or population?).
  • Given the evidence currently available, there was a call from participants for government to be more robust about the actual level of risk, with the question remaining as to whether pharmaceuticals in the environment really are a problem.