As leaders gather for the International Ministerial Conference on antimicrobial resistance (AMR), hosted by the government of The Netherlands and organised in close cooperation with the FAO, OIE and WHO, experts and responsible manufacturers are calling for a ‘One Health’ approach to AMR and recognition of the impact of antibiotic production on the environment.

“Alongside antibiotic stewardship and infection control we need to see regulation regarding emissions into our rivers,” said Professor William Gaze, a microbial ecologist who studies antimicrobial resistance at the University of Exeter in the UK.

The Netherlands-based, global manufacturer of antibiotics, Centrient Pharmaceuticals are welcoming WHO experts and international delegates from the ministerial meeting at their sustainable production facility today, hope the visit and the ministerial meeting will raise awareness of the issue and help drive ministerial support for cleaner and more sustainable production of antibiotics.

“We aim to highlight to ministers that sustainable production is achievable and needs to be recognised as one of the three principles in the fight against AMR,” said Karl Rotthier, CEO Centrient Pharmaceuticals.

The three principles in the fight against AMR are:

  1. TAKE antibiotics only when needed and exactly as prescribed (by patients)
  2. MAKE antibiotics in a sustainable way by adopting emission targets (by manufacturers)
  3. BUY antibiotics only from responsible sources to ensure a clean supply chain (by procurers).

A recent report by the Access to Medicine Foundation highlighted that 15 of the largest pharmaceutical manufacturers have some form of an environmental risk-management strategy that aims to minimise impact of antibiotics discharged from manufacturing processes. However, only 8 companies have already set limits on antibiotic discharge in wastewaters.

Globally, there is still a huge disparity in the concentration of antibiotics found in waste effluent. In a bid to reduce this disparity, the AMR Industry Alliance, one of the largest private sector coalitions set up to provide sustainable solutions to curb antimicrobial resistance, has published a manufacturing framework for antibiotic production which describes environmental management practices necessary to ensure good environmental control at manufacturing sites. The Alliance has also published a safe list of discharge targets to help guide environmental risk assessments for the manufacture of antibiotics.