From the World Health Organization to the National Academy of Sciences, scientists are warning that rising antibiotic resistance poses a public health threat across the world. Now, a new report from consumer advocacy group Sum Of Us examines an often-overlooked factor behind this crisis: the complicity of pharmaceutical giants in the dangerous dumping of drug waste throughout the supply chain.
"This is a huge problem with a simple solution: Pharmaceutical companies must reveal where they source their antibiotics from and stop buying from polluting factories."
—Paul Ferris, SumOfUs.org
Irresponsible use of antibiotics—in human medicine and factory farming—has reportedly led to the rise of antimicrobial-resistant superbugs that threaten our ability to treat common infection.
The report Bad Medicine, released Wednesday night, examines antibiotic production from start to finish, revealing that some of the most well-known drug corporations are fueling the global health problem of antibiotic resistance.
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The multinational corporation Pfizer, for example, has sourced antibiotics from a Chinese factory that "stands accused of discharging pharmaceutical waste into the environment and numerous other manufacturing deficiencies," the report states.
Pollution from the dumping of pharmaceutical raw materials is a serious problem, because it releases antibiotics into the environment—a factor behind the rise of antimicrobial resistance.
But it doesn't stop with Pfizer.
"There also appear to be direct links between one of the world's largest generic drug manufacturers, McKesson, which owns several European brands, and Indian company Aurobindo, which sources from at least four polluting Chinese factories," write the study's authors.
And Israeli company Teva has direct ties to three Chinese companies that "have been in the Chinese media spotlight for various offenses including improper waste management and the release of noxious chemicals," notes the study.
"This is a huge problem with a simple solution: Pharmaceutical companies must reveal where they source their antibiotics from and stop buying from polluting factories," said Paul Ferris, campaign director for SumOfUs.org, in a press statement. "Good environmental stewardship and health are intrinsically linked - dumping antibiotics in the environment could be harming the health of everyone on this planet."