• Manoj Swaminathan

EcoPharmacovigilance - An Introduction!

Updated: Jul 26

Let me start off by asking a couple of questions...

  1. How do you handle expired medicines at the home, office or in a healthcare set-up?

  2. Can Pharmacovigilance affect only human beings and animals)?

I recollect many instances where I have, or some near or dear one has discarded old and unused medicines by draining down the basin, flushing through the commode, or even throwing them in the garbage bin.

Medicines' related side effects not only affect the human beings (and animals), but also the environment, and this had led to emergence of concept of EcoPharmacovigilance.

Ecopharmacovigilance can be defined as science and activities concerning detection, assessment, understanding, and prevention of adverse effects or other problems related to the presence of pharmaceutical product or by-product in the environment.

It is well-known that some part of every medicine that we consume, gets excreted from the body directly, or in the form of metabolites. This finally comes in contact with environment, through the sewage. Besides, industrial wastes from pharmaceutical companies also contribute to entry of drugs into the environment.

Ultimately these get into the food chain and gain re-entry into the human body, based on the chemically contaminated food and water that we consume.

Having said that, one would agree that EcoPharmacovigilance is an interesting and upcoming field that is (only) slowly gaining importance. Some modern lifestyle diseases and some new ailments are even being attributed to EcoPharmacovigilance.

Although we have numerous publications on this topic, with researchers suggesting an urgent need for addressing this, there is still very little progress that has been made so far. Long way to go now!