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Ex-DC of Kerala proposes 'Ecopharmacovigilance' to become part of pharmacy education

Peethaambaran Kunnathoor, Chennai
Tuesday, June 11, 2024, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

Signalling about a perceived need for a change in the curriculum of all pharmacy courses that is currently in place, the former drug controller (DC) of Kerala, Dr. Revi S Menon, has made a proposal to the president of the Pharmacy Council of India (PCI) regarding consideration of  'Ecopharmacovigilance' or EPV in the syllabi for all programmes.

The Ex-DC, who introduced programs against the emerging pharmaceutical pollution (PP) while in service, says that the subject of EPV needs to be included in the curriculum of all health and life-sciences courses in order to encourage for an action plan for safe disposal of the unused drugs from the premises of sales and household.

Quoting WHO's remark on antimicrobial resistance (AMR), he said in his suggestion that EPV is an emerging field focused on understanding, detecting, and assessing the adverse effects of pharmaceuticals on the environment. Unlike pharmacovigilance (PV), which primarily concerns the safety of medicines for patients, EPV aims to prevent environmental contamination caused by the improper disposal of expired, leftover, substandard, spurious and adulterated medicines. He said in his suggestion that the consequences of pharmaceutical pollution are far-reaching, impacting various species and posing significant risks to human health through the contamination of water bodies and ecosystems.

"Despite India's notable progress as a leading global pharmaceutical hub, the awareness and regulatory framework surrounding EPV remain limited. Studies have shown that antibiotic residues and antibiotic resistance are prevalent, leading to serious environmental and health risks. According to WHO, unscientific disposal of expired, leftover, substandard, spurious and adulterated medicines is one of the most significant causes for antimicrobial resistance among animals and human beings. The unscientific disposal of pharmaceuticals is a significant contributor to these issues, emphasizing the urgent need for informed action", Dr. Menon says in his letter.

Later while talking to Pharmabiz, he said incorporating EPV into the curriculum of pharmacy courses will enable the future pharmacists to be cautious about pharmaceutical pollution and the need for ecopharmacovigilance. By educating future pharmacists about the environmental impacts of pharmaceuticals and the importance of safe disposal practices, we can foster a more sustainable approach to healthcare and mitigate the risks associated with pharmaceutical pollution. This initiative aligns with global efforts to promote green chemistry and environmental sustainability, which are increasingly recognized as vital components of public health. Additionally, integrating EPV awareness and safe disposal practices as part of National Service Scheme (NSS) activities in pharmacy colleges will engage students in practical, community-oriented initiatives that promote environmental stewardship.

According to Dr. Menon, inclusion of EPV in the curriculum will not only equip students with the knowledge to address current challenges but also inspire them to contribute to the development of innovative solutions for a healthier planet. He expressed the hope that the PCI, under the leadership of Dr. Montu Kumar Patel, will play a pivotal role in advancing this crucial aspect of healthcare in education.

While Dr Menon was the DC of Kerala, he introduced a program called, PROUD, involving the chemists and druggists (AKCDA), which still works well in the capital district. The objective of PROUD or the Programme on Removal of Unused Drugs, is the collection and appropriate disposal of medicine wastage from pharmacy and household premises.


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