Indicator water

Consumption of medicinal products

Some persistent pharmaceuticals pass continuously through the treatment plants into surface waters, where they can cause chronic stress to aquatic organisms. For instance, in watercourses receiving high quantities of treated wastewater, diclofenac concentrations reach levels that are possibly damaging to brown trout – diclofenac is an active ingredient contained in painkillers that are in widespread use. The medicinal product consumption therefore gives information about the pollution of surface waters by pharmaceuticals.

Assessment of the state
impossible to evaluate impossible to evaluate
Assessment of the trend
negative negative
Anteil an Personen in %, die in den letzten 7 Tagen ein Medikament genommen haben 2012: 48.6 Anteil an Personen in %, die in den letzten 7 Tagen ein Medikament genommen haben 2007: 46.3 Anteil an Personen in %, die in den letzten 7 Tagen ein Medikament genommen haben 2002: 40.8 Anteil an Personen in %, die in den letzten 7 Tagen ein Medikament genommen haben 1997: 40.7 Anteil an Personen in %, die in den letzten 7 Tagen ein Medikament genommen haben 1992: 38.3

Data for the graph: Excel
Source: Federal Office for the Environment
Comment

The consumption of medicinal products has not changed significantly since the mid-1990s. For this reason the trend is assessed as neutral.

With the demographic changes (due to an ageing population) and the rise in population numbers, consumption of medicinal products will probably increase longer term.

Adverse effects on surface waters can be limited by upgrading municipal wastewater treatment plants (WWTP). By introducing additional treatment steps, many organic trace substances can be eliminated. Upgrading of about 100 out of 700 WWTP in Switzerland would be sufficient to significantly improve water quality. Environmentally unsound compounds should also be replaced by less problematic alternatives. Efforts on the part of industry are yielding results. Another approach is to give greater weight to environmental impact assessments in the registration and regulation of substances.

Method

Three biologically active compounds are monitored to represent the consumption of medicinal products: Carbamazepine (an anti-epileptic), diclofenac and sulfomethoxazole (an antibiotic). In a full survey in 2006, the wholesalers recorded all the sales and distribution of pharmaceutical specialities to pharmacies, primary care practitioners and drugstores. Data on annual quantities consumed were recorded once again in 2010.

 
Last updated on: 20.04.2018

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