Pharma's sustainability agenda centre stage in new ABPI report

Words by GOLD newsdesk

While pharmaceutical companies are moving quickly to reduce their environmental impact and making steady progress, there are multiple challenges facing their efforts and global action is required to ensure their commitments to reach Net Zero are realised.


This is the message set out in a new report entitled 'Supporting the Era of Green Pharmaceuticals in the UK', commissioned by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) and published by the Office of Health Economics (OHE).


Some 12-35% of all carbon emission omitted by the UK health service sector can be attributed to the pharma industry, but 70-90% of these emissions are reportedly outside of the sector's direct control, suggesting the need for a joined-up approach. As Richard Torbett, Chief Executive, ABPI, states, pharma companies “face some key challenges in the drive for sustainability which they cannot address alone”.


The challenges facing the pharma sector set out in the report include the hard-to-alter product safety and regulatory standards, low success rates in R&D, the changing nature of innovation and the fact that healthcare systems do not currently reward sustainability.


Highlighting that tackling the climate crisis is an international priority, the report calls on governments, health systems and pharma companies to work together to secure the era of green pharmaceuticals, setting out high-priority activities that these stakeholders should undertake.


Potential solutions offered include the industry including sustainability metrics and investment in product-level life-cycle assessment, the UK government taking a lead in grid decarbonisation and international alignment on regulatory and reporting standards, and the NHS building sustainability into its procurement decision-making processes.


“We cannot continue to develop lifesaving therapies in a vacuum – global action must be taken to ensure that we do not save lives by killing the planet,” concluded Graham Cookson, Chief Executive, OHE, and co-author of the report.