EHMA White Paper: Reducing the environmental impact of medicines from procurement to disposal

Medicines are crucial to save human lives and improve wellbeing. However, when prescribed, used, or disposed inappropriately, they can impact human health and severely impact wildlife and ecosystems. There are various ways in which pharmaceuticals impact the environment. Firstly, the medicines and medical equipment supply chain releases large amounts of greenhouse gas emissions. Secondly, wastewater from the production and usage of medicines can be detrimental to wildlife and expedite the emergence and spread of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). It is estimated that there are 33 000 human deaths linked to antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the EU/EEA each year.[1]  

Multi-stakeholder and multi-sectoral engagement with the One Health approach across the medicine’s lifecycle is therefore urgently needed to address this issue and health managers have a key role to play in leading the change in the way we procure, distribute, prescribe, use and dispose of medicines.  

EHMA’s White Paper written from a health management perspective and entitled “Reducing the environmental impact of medicines from procurement to disposal” presents strategies that health managers can implement to reduce the environmental impact of medicines at the various stages of the medicine’s lifecycle, including procurement, logistic planning and distribution, prescription, consumption and use, and disposal. The White Paper also contains 13 case studies highlighting best practices from across the European region.    

Read the White Paper  “Reducing the environmental impact of medicines from procurement to disposal”

For any question, corrections, clarifications, or additional information, please contact Emmi Weller, Policy Officer, at

[1] Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. (2019). Antimicrobial Resistance–Tackling the Burden in the European Union.  

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