Life cycle impacts and environmental fate of pharmaceuticals: Examining the life cycle

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Examining the life cycle

When looking at the life cycle impact of pharmaceuticals there are three key areas for consideration:

  • Life cycle impact of primary manufacturing - the synthesis of the active pharmaceutical ingredient (API);
  • Life cycle impact of secondary manufacturing – formulation, packaging, excipients  etc.;
  • End-of-life impacts – this relates to what happens to the API molecule post-patient and its effects in the environment, which can be subdivided into:
    • Potential issues with contamination of human drinking water with APIs and their residues;
    • The effects on organisms other than humans exposed to the APIs and their residues in water courses.

Learning Objectives

By the end of this module you should:

  • Understand how each of the different stages in the lifecycle of a pharmaceutical product contribute to the overall environmental impact;
  • Be aware of strategies for reducing environmental impact at each of these stages;
  • Be aware of 'hot-spots' or areas of high environmental impact.