How Baddi pharma waste can make your medicines ineffective

Pharma waste from one of India’s largest pharmaceutical manufacturing hub, Baddi-Barotiwala-Nalagarh region in Himanchal Pradesh, flows into the Sirsa river While some companies in the region claim to have Zero Liquid Discharge plants for waste management, there is no mechanism to check their regular functioning Small manufacturers undertake primary and secondary treatment and drain the waste Studies have found resistant genes and antimicrobial pharmaceuticals contaminating the direct environment of drug manufacturing units Spread over 380 square kilometres in Himachal Pradesh’s Solan district, the Baddi-Barotiwala-Nalagarh (BBN) industrial area is one of India’s largest pharmaceutical manufacturing hubs.
Pharma manufacturing units are required to send their solid waste to the treatment, storage, and disposal facility (TSDF).
But ZLD plants require huge investments.
An official at Morepen Laboratories Limited explains that setting up a state-of the-art wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) such as ZLD for a large manufacturing plant costs R3 crore, with monthly operational expenses of R10 lakh.
All of this allows entry of residual APIs into the environment.
The CETP in Baddi, which became operational in 2016, drains treated wastewater into the Sirsa river.
But the level of evidence required is not there.
In 2016, researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology Hyderabad reported high levels of fluoroquinolone residues in water and sediment samples of the Musi river, which receives effluents from WWTPs around Hyderabad.
Thus, the threat of AMR due to APIs in the environment will be present as Baddi expands manufacturing capacity.
Guiding star India’s National Action Plan on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) focuses on its environmental aspect Surveillance of AMR and antibiotic residues in environment, including pharma manufacturing discharges Standards for antibiotic residues in industrial effluents Environmental risk assessment for establishment of factories, including pharmaceutical manufacturing units Development of legislation, awareness and incentives Training of environment regulators, industry players on AMR and the need to control it This story was first published in the May 16-31, 2017 issue of Down To Earth magazine under the headline "Bitter Medicine".

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