Young Pharmacists Going Green

As a student representative in Generation Green Team, let me introduce you to some of the recent activities which show how the awareness and interest in green pharmacy among students and young professionals is spreading quickly both in Finland and around Europe.

A couple of weeks ago, over 100 pharmacy students and recent graduates got together in Helsinki to join a two-day long congress under the theme ‘Drugs and the Environment’. The congress was organised by the Finnish Pharmaceutical Students’ Associations, FiPSA, but in addition to students from the Finnish universities, we had the pleasure to have participants from Serbia, Germany and Slovakia. The congress included capturing presentations about pharmaceuticals in the environment, activities of Generation Green Team, United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, environmental protection at Krka, and environmental and economic burden of pharmaceutical waste. Thanks to the great speakers with various backgrounds, the theme of the congress was discussed very widely, providing the participants with new aspects to think about. For instance, it was clearly agreed on that we as pharmacy students and pharmacists need to take further actions to educate people more about the disposal of medicines, and later the possible ways to do it at community pharmacies were brainstormed in a workshop. Furthermore, actions to reduce medicinal waste in hospitals were discussed.

One of the possible actions to raise awareness among public is to run public health campaigns. For example, a campaign about the disposal of medicines was run last year in Helsinki as a part of the Annual Congress of the European Pharmaceutical Students’ Association, EPSA. By giving out leaflets, stickers and green and white balloons in the city center of Helsinki, we could remind passengers to return their unused or expired medicines to a pharmacy instead of flushing them down the toilet.

When talking about drugs and the environment, antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is something you cannot ignore. Concerning this topic, Generation Green will host a session called ‘Live and let the others die – environmental responsibility in the field of pharmacy’ later this month at Farmasian Päivät (‘Pharmacy Days’), the biggest educational event for professionals in the pharmaceutical field, where also AMR will be discussed.

Moreover, EPSA is actively campaigning against AMR around Europe, attending EU-level events in Brussels and collaborating with other students’ associations, like the European Medical Students’ Association, EMSA, and the European Dental Students’ Association, EDSA, with whom an interprofessional position paper about AMR has been written already a couple of years ago. Most recently, EMSA had its Autumn Assembly in Budapest with the main theme being Antimicrobial Resistance. I had the pleasure to attend the event and to bring pharmaceutical views into discussion, and I was delighted to see that also other healthcare professionals recognize the seriousness of the problem. In my opinion, interprofessional collaboration is essential to fight against AMR, and the European students could be taken as a good example of that.

Obviously, students are interested in learning more about environmental problems related to the pharmaceutical field and willing to reduce them. This was visible also at the research seminar ‘Pharmaceuticals in the Environment – From Troublemakers Toward Benign by Design’ which was organised by Generation Green in Helsinki last November. This two-day seminar brought together around 60 professionals and students, providing them with inspiring speeches from international experts and national lead researchers. There have been several requests to re-organise it, especially from students, but at least there will be a theme day about drug development and use for the master students at the Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Helsinki in December 2017. All in all, our Team will continue its work for greener generations.

Lastly, we would like to welcome everyone to join our session at Farmasian Päivät on the 18th of November 2017 in Helsinki!

 

Further reading:

EPSA, EMSA and EDSA joint position on Antibiotics: http://www.epsa-online.org/epsa-statements-and-position-papers/#1484505992355-90f13191-1f4c

International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP): Green Pharmacy Practice: Taking responsibility for the environmental impact of medicines. http://www.fip.org/files/fip/publications/2015-12-Green-Pharmacy-Practice.pdf

Meds Disposal initiative: information on current disposal schemes in European countries: http://medsdisposal.eu/

 

by Suvi Sivula, MSc (Pharm) student who has been involved in various student organisations

Asiantuntijaorganisaatio?

Viime aikoina blogimme on viettänyt hiljaiseloa, mutta Generation Green ei. Työ jatkuu mm. tiedekuntamme opetuksen kehittämisessä sekä tutkimuspuolella EPIC-projektissa Suomen ympäristökeskuksen, Lappeenrannan teknillisen yliopiston ja kumppaneiden kanssa. Näistä lisää myöhemmin; tässä blogitekstissä keskityn yhteiskunnalliseen vuorovaikutukseen.

Community engagement. Tätä harjoiteltiin ankarasti pari vuotta sitten Helsinki Challengen aikana, ja nyttemmin on huomattu, että oppi ei mennyt hukkaan. Generation Green on nähtävästi onnistunut täyttämään jonkinlaista informaatiotyhjiötä Suomessa, sillä useilta taholta on tullut luento- ynnä muita pyyntöjä juuri meille, vaikka harvaa meistä voi hyvällä omallatunnolla kutsua kovan tason ekspertiksi lääkkeiden ympäristövaikutuksen alalla.

Fimean Sic!-lääketietojulkaisun numeron 3/2016 teema oli ”Luonto ja lääke”. Lehdessä tiimimme vetäjä Tiina Sikanen kirjoitti ympäristövaikutuksista lääkkeen elinkaaressa (http://sic.fimea.fi/arkisto/2016/3_2016/luonto-ja-laake/ymparistovaikutukset-laakkeen-elinkaaressa). Saman numeron kahdesta pääkirjoituksesta toinen oli Pia Vuorelan käsialaa (http://sic.fimea.fi/arkisto/2016/3_2016/luonto-ja-laake/paakirjoitus2). Tässä poikettiin edellisen kappaleen eksperttimaininnasta: kun otsikkona on luonnonaineet terveydenhuollossa, Pia on todella kovan luokan asiantuntija.

Myös allekirjoittanut on päässyt aukomaan sanaista arkkuaan pariin otteeseen. Marraskuussa 2016 järjestettiin pohjoismaisten lääketieteen opiskelijoiden FiNO-konferenssi Enä-Sepän koulutuskeskuksessa Vihdissä. Pidin tunnin mittaisen luennon aiheesta ”Pharmaceutical residues in the water environment”. Erityisesti mieleeni jäi tilaisuuden rento ja välitön tunnelma: sisätiloissa ei käytetty kenkiä, mutta talo tarjosi villasukat! Aiemmin samana vuonna puhuin vihreästä farmasiasta Euroopan farmasian opiskelijoiden järjestön EPSA:n kongressissa Helsingissä, joten voinee sanoa, että olemme onnistuneet saamaan näkyvyyttä kansainvälisissä opiskelijapiireissä.

Maaliskuussa 2017 järjestettiin Terveystoimittajat ry:n 30-vuotisjuhla hotelli Klaus K:ssa Helsingissä. Minulla oli kunnia osallistua paneelikeskusteluun, jonka aiheena olivat lääkejäämät ja mikromuovit vesistöissä. Muut panelistit olivat Outi Setälä Suomen ympäristökeskuksesta ja vanha tuttumme Niina Vieno Laki ja Vesi Oy:stä. Oli ilo keskustella sydäntä lähellä olevasta aiheesta valveutuneen yleisön kanssa. Jälkikäteen kuulin, että edellisellä kerralla, 25-vuotisjuhlassa, panelisteina olivat arkkiatri ja peruspalveluministeri; onneksi tätä ei kerrottu etukäteen, olisi saattanut tulla suorituspaineita…

Jaakko Teppo

From Reflection to Action

Fall 2016 has brought about many new modes of action 
By Tiina Sikanen, Group leader, Faculty of Pharmacy, UH

The Generation Green team continues to promote interaction between pharmaceutical and environmental sciences. An important collaboration project, EPIC, between the Finnish Environment Institute, the Lappeenranta University of Technology and University of Helsinki (Generation Green team) was initiated in September. The EPIC project, funded by Tekes – The Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation and 11 other funders from public and private sectors, aims at efficient treatment of pharmaceutical waste at primary sources, such as hospitals, and pilots new technology for purification of pharmaceuticals from waste waters. The Generation Green team is happy to participate by bringing in a “pharmaceutical touch” to the project.

During the fall, we have also initiated closer cooperation with the Alumni Association of the University of Helsinki in terms of fund raising and other modes of societal interaction. Since spring 2016, you have also been able to follow our latest news via a new Generation Green blog series at Apteekkari.fi. The previous entries can be browsed here.

For the time being, the Generation Green team prepares for the research seminar ‘Pharmaceuticals in the Environment – From Troublemakers Toward Bening by Design’ which is to take place on Wed-Fri 9-11 Nov in Helsinki. We are honored to host the renowned experts in the field, including Prof. Dr. Klaus Kümmerer from Leuphana University, Germany, Prof. Tanel Tenson from University of Tartu, Estonia, and Dr. Bengt Mattson from Pfizer, Sweden. The keynote lectures by these international experts are further complemented by those of national lead researchers. As a whole, a two-day programme targeting environmental aspects of pharmaceuticals is ahead of us. Looking forward to inspiring discussions between the experts and up to 60 preregistered participants! More news from the seminar will be posted here in due time.

Green chemistry for the green pharmacists

By Jari Yli-Kauhaluoma, Professor, University of Helsinki

The Generation Green aims at educating the new generation capable of comprehending and assimilating environmental impacts of medicines. The life cycle of medicines spans their discovery, development, industrial production and use, from the original drug molecule to its metabolites that usually pass through the sewage treatment plants and enter the water system. It should be noted that in the manufacture of medicines the use of various chemicals is essential: catalysts, solvents and auxiliary substances of many kinds are needed. Chemical industry has paid careful attention to the environmental effects of chemicals already for a long time. By the way, would the grass be greener on the other side, i.e. is there something Green Pharmacy could learn from the well-established Green Chemistry? Continue reading

Vihreän farmasian uudet ulottuvuudet

By Reijo Kärkkäinen, University instructor, Alumnae relations
Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Helsinki

Pysyvä muutos on mahdollinen.

Generation Green -tiimi hakee ajattelun ja systeemin muutosta. Haluamme kasvattaa uuden sukupolven, joka lähtökohtaisesti sisäistää ympäristövaikutukset lääkkeen koko kehitys- , tuotanto- ja käyttökaaren osalta eli molekyylistä jätteeksi. Tämä uusi ajattelu on mallinnettavissa muille toimialoille kansallisella ja globaalilla tasolla. Tässä ajattelussa otetaan huomioon vertailukelpoinen kehitys sellaisilla toimialoilla kuten esimerkiksi metsäteollisuus, elintarvikkeet, puhdistusaineet ja IT-tuotteet. Continue reading

Generation Green – what does it have to do with students?

by Suvi Sivula, MSc (Pharm) student

Pharmaceutical education prepares students to work in different sectors of the pharmacy field and during various steps of the drug life cycle. If all of the pharmaceutical students gain the same knowledge about Green Pharmacy during their undergraduate studies, it does not matter where they will work later; they already have the green way of thinking when they enter work life so it is not only up to their own or their employers how educated they will be. With acknowledging the issues related to pharmaceuticals, environment, and health, safe acts could be implemented and promoted at workplaces by the new Generation Green. If we want environmental management and sustainable thinking to become a part of our lives as pharmacy professionals, it is time to start working on it.

University students of the present generation are generally well aware of environmental sustainability, but the environmental aspects have not been covered so well in pharmaceutical education.  It feels pretty weird to me that these aspects have come up so late. Continue reading

International Green Pharmacy

by Eeva Teräsalmi
Pharmacy owner, Seitsemän veljeksen apteekki
Vice president, FIP

International Pharmaceutical Federation FIP looks forward to publish its first environmental report “Green pharmacy practice”. This report has been written by a working group consisting of members representing different pharmacy fields from research to practice and education.

The document, “Green Pharmacy Practice – Report for Pharmacists” was prepared by a joint working group of the Board of Pharmacy Practice and Board of Pharmaceutical Science of FIP. The report is intended to inform FIP Member Organizations and individual members of FIP about the environmental issues that surround the medication-use process.

Continue reading