A Theoretical Approach to Reduce Discarded Pharmaceuticals in the Environment

By John M. Polimeni, Leon E. Cosler, Ray Chandrasekara and Michael Dobis.

Published by The Sustainability Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The impact of pharmaceutical personal care products (PPCPs) and veterinary medicines on the environment is receiving increasing amounts of international attention. As such, the greater interest is generating an expanding body of literature on human, veterinary, and PPCPs found in the environment (soil, lakes, rivers, and streams). While only trace amounts of PPCPs have been detected, the public health implications are unknown. However, this issue is a concern because of the properties that pharmaceuticals have, such as biological activity, lipophilic nature, and resistance to biodegradation (Valagaleti, 2002). Kummerer (2004) described these properties in pharmacology and ecopharmacology terms. In addition, antibiotic resistance has been shown to favor low concentrations of antibiotics (Peterson et al., 1997; Jorgensen and Halling-Sorensen, 2000). Furthermore, deformities in the reproduction systems of marine animals have demonstrated that PPCPs in the environment are not benign (Pauli, 2002; Metcalfe, 2002). This paper will present one possible regulatory solution to arguably the largest and most dangerous component of the PPCP problem, the fate of discarded residential human pharmaceuticals. We will examine the fate of human pharmaceuticals before entering the environment, examine the prevalence of human pharmaceuticals in the environment and explore the scientific literature on the regulatory alternative that has received the most attention and traction, a take-back program. We then build upon the literature to present a theoretical approach to maximize the reduction of improperly discarded human pharmaceuticals. And, the paper concludes with a discussion and implications.

Keywords: Pharmaceutical Pollution, Sustainable Development, Ecological Economics

The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp.89-98. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 664.996KB).

Dr. John M. Polimeni

Assistant Professor of Economics, Department of Pharmacy Practice, Albany College of Pharmacy, Albany, New York, USA

John M. Polimeni (Ph.D., Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute) is an Assistant Professor of Economics at the Albany College of Pharmacy. He has a B.S. degree in mathematics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a M.A. degree in Economics from SUNY at Albany, where he also received a Certificate in Graduate Studies in Regulatory Economics. Dr. Polimeni is the managing editor of the International Journal of Transdisciplinary Research, an international journal devoted to integrating the study of economics with disciplines within the natural and social sciences, as well as the humanities. Dr. Polimeni is a Fellow Member of the International Congress of Chemistry and Environment and has been named an Honorary Member of the Scientific Council of the Romanian National Academy of Science. His primary research interests are energy efficiency, economic development, agriculture, and sustainability. Dr. Polimeni has published several articles in these fields.

Dr. Leon E. Cosler

Associate Professor of Pharmacoeconomics, Pharmacy Practice, Albany College of Pharmacy, Albany, New York, USA

Ray Chandrasekara

Assistant Professor of South and Southeast Asian Studies, Department of Arts and Sciences, Albany College of Pharmacy, Albany, New York, USA

Interests in literature, political science, history and culture of Asian societies, particularly Southeast Asia, India and Japan. Currently an assistant profesor of Asian Studies in Albany College, New York.

Michael Dobis

Albany College of Pharmacy, Albany, New York, USA


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