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!
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