To take your ideas to Policymakers, Join the Campaign of #PolicyPulse Write to

Antibiotic waste is polluting India and China's rivers

Pollution from drugs factories is causing the spread of anti-microbial resistance

Policy Pulse
Publish Date: Oct 25 2016 3:38PM | Updated Date: Oct 25 2016 3:38PM

Antibiotic waste is polluting India and China's rivers

Antibiotic-resistant superbugs are a fundamental threat to global health. The unabated environmental pollution of drug factories in developing countries causing sever health hazard.


In India and China, where a large proportion of antibiotics are produced, the poorly regulated discharge of untreated wastewater into soils and rivers is causing the spread of antibiotic ingredients.


A study of wastewater factories in China found that antibiotic-resistant bacteria were not only escaping purification but also breeding and developing immunity to antibiotics.


For every bacterium that entered one waste treatment plant, four or five antibiotic-resistant bacteria were released into the water system, tainting water, livestock and communities.


Superbugs are able to travel quickly through air and water, aboard airplanes and through global food supply chains.


By 2050, the total death toll worldwide as the result of contracting an infection that proves resistant to treatment is expected to reach 10 million people.


Environmental pollution is now a material issue for the pharmaceuticals sector. Global investors are worried that a local factory pollution scandal in India could affect the value of a global pharma company in their portfolio.


Last month 13 pharmaceutical companies signed a declaration calling for collective action on antimicrobial resistance.


They committed to review their manufacturing and supply chains and assess good practice in controlling releases of antibiotics into the environment.


They also committed to establish science and risk-based targets for discharge concentrations of antibiotics and to reduce the environmental impact of manufacturing discharges by 2020.