U.S. Waterways Carry Drugs From Pharmaceutical Companies

Waterways in the United States are routine dumping grounds for pharmaceutical manufacturers seeping the drugs into drinking water.
The water you may be drinking from your tap could contain a watered-down drug cocktail. That’s the findings of an Associated Press investigation.

The scary truth is no one in the federal government is looking into the issues of US water being contaminated by the runoff from manufacturing medicines.

With no one tracking which pharmaceuticals being dumped into the waterways U.S. manufacturers are free to release a potential environmental and health nightmare at will.

PharmaWater investigation is ongoing research by AP. The investigation found 22 compounds that have shown up in water supplies. Both the EPA and the Food and Drug Administration are supposed to be monitoring the compounds for the American public. There has been a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy regarding these drug companies.

Not only are drug companies to blame for the amount of contamination. Consumers excrete the drugs not absorbed by the body and flush drugs down the toilet.

There are also an estimated 250 million pounds of pharmaceuticals and contaminated packaging discarded each year from medical centers.

It is known that even diluted amounts of drugs can harm wild life. There has been research that shows that human cells fail to grow normally in the laboratory when exposed to trace concentrations of certain drugs. Yet water utilities say their water is safe.

Two chemicals, phenol and hydrogen peroxide, account for 92 percent of the 271 million pounds of what is coming from drug makers and other manufacturers. Both of those chemicals can be toxic and are harmful for the environment.

Pfizer is one of the companies that knows that water contamination has been happening. They are working on reducing the impact their company has on the environment in a negative way.

They are working through their company’s EHS Guideline on Water Conservation requiring their facilities to:

* Review and quantify their water use
* Identify and prioritize water conservation measures
* Develop, implement and report on water conservation action plans and targets
* Support community efforts during drought conditions

The drug companies say that they are in compliance and work to prevent leakage into the water supply.

AP reports:

“Manufacturers have to be in compliance with all relevant environmental laws,” said Alan Goldhammer, a scientist and vice president at the industry trade group Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.

When AP asked the companies point blank if they tested the waterways from their plants there was no direct answer.

“Based on research that we have reviewed from the past 20 years, pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities are not a significant source of pharmaceuticals that contribute to environmental risk,” GlaxoSmithKline said in a statement.

While Pfizer says it tests its waste water when investigated further it’s only the waters outside the United States.

“The government could get a national snapshot of the water if they chose to,” said Jennifer Sass, a senior scientist for the Natural Resources Defense Council, “and it seems logical that we would want to find out what’s coming out of these plants.”

This investigation has to be looked into further. Left unchecked the United States could end up with a situation like that in Patancheru, India where their water is a medical soup.


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