Pharm Facts: The Case for "Greener" Drugs

treehugger.comAt this point, we’re all familiar with efforts to live a “greener” life by recycling, composting, biking and shopping locally. But, what about the pharmaceutical drugs we ingest to quell a nagging headache, or worse, treat an aggressive disease?

A Slate article posted yesterday asked the question, “How can we make pharmaceutical drugs less toxic to the environment?” The answer is still very much in the testing phase.

Some drugs just happen to be “greener” than others. Meaning, for the most part, that they biodegrade quickly, or are fully converted within the human body. Others travel into our water systems by way of a toilet flush, where they are ingested by fish and other wildlife. This has led to a disruption in the natural habits and physical appearance of fish and frogs. Plus, there is still no concrete evidence available on how pharmaceuticals in drinking water affect human health.

The good thing is that any attention paid to the harmful affect pharmaceuticals have on the environment is good attention. For now, scientists are investigating ways to create “greener” drugs. Until then, Slate suggests scaling back on the use of prescription drugs. After all, medicine should never act as a replacement for some good ole fashioned rest and relaxation.

On a similar note, the Pew Charitable Trusts has a campaign on Human Heath and Industrial Farming, that is seeking to stop the overuse of antibiotics in food animal production. You can read more about it here. Also check out the Women's Health and Environmental Network (WHEN), a local organization working hard on this difficult problem. Bonus: WHEN will be profiled in the upcoming February issue of Grid