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  • Key Finding: Eight companies are setting limits on antibio...
Key Finding

Eight companies are setting limits on antibiotic wastewater discharge

Significantly curtailing the release of antibiotics into the environment is seen as an important measure for slowing AMR. Consensus around safe limits for antibiotic discharge has yet to emerge. On this issue, the Benchmark ques­tioned the 18 companies in scope with significant manufacturing presence. Of these, 15 reported having some form of an environmental risk-management strategy in place, with eight also report­ing that they have set factory discharge limits for antibiotics.

Large volumes of antibiotics are manufactured in some countries where local populations often rely on untreated groundwater for their household water supplies. Significantly curtailing the release of antibiotics into the environment is seen as an important measure for slowing AMR. Consensus around safe limits for antibiotic discharge has yet to emerge.

On this issue, the Benchmark ques­tioned the 18 companies in scope with significant manufacturing presence.* Of these, 15 reported having some form of an environmental risk-management strategy in place, with eight also report­ing that they have set factory discharge limits for antibiotics. In a further step, four said they also require their suppli­ers of active ingredients and drug prod­ucts to adhere to the same limits. All eight also disclosed that they audit the implementation of their environmental risk-management strategies. However, no company publishes its environmental audit results, or its discharge levels.

Figure 14. Eight companies set discharge limits. No company publishes discharge levels. 

Eight of 18 companies evaluated in this research area reported that they have set discharge limits for antibiotics. Four of these companies also require upstream suppliers of antibiotic APIs and drug products to adhere to the same limits. Yet no company publishes its discharge levels. All eight companies reported that they audit the implementation of their environmental risk-management strategies at their own manufacturing sites.


For the remaining ten companies, four reported they do not set limits and four did not respond to the question. The Benchmark was unable to find inde­pendent information on the perfor­mance in this area of the four who declined to answer the question. The two remaining companies, Aurobindo and Dr. Reddy’s, report that they do not set limits as they do not release waste­water. Instead they vaporise the waste and dispose of the residual solids by other means.

Ten of the companies included in this Benchmark have signed the 2016 Industry Roadmap for Combatting Antimicrobial Resistance, thereby com­mitting to establishing a common framework for managing antibiotic fac­tory discharges, to developing a mecha­nism to demonstrate their supply chains meet the standards set, and to agree­ing, by 2020, targets on antibiotic levels released in waste discharge. They also committed to reviewing their actions to identify good practice. Seven of the eight companies that reported setting limits were signatories of this Roadmap.

*In its analysis of Manufacturing & Production practices, the Benchmark uses global antibiotic sales volumes to inform its selection of companies to analyse.

For a full list of references, please see the 2018 AMR Benchmark report.



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