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Pharmapack expert recommends holistic approach to sustainability

18 May 2020

Although the industry might be 30% along its sustainability journey, greater interoperability is needed from materials to devices.

In an in-depth review of the market and having evaluated the collective developments from this year’s Pharmapack event, Gregor Anderson, MD of Pharmacentric Solutions, offers a positive appraisal of pharma’s drive towards sustainability, as well as identifying areas requiring further improvement.

“I am really encouraged by the massive strides we have made this year. As an industry, we are no longer paying lip service to sustainability and wherein once there might have just been a single dedicated employee, there are now entire teams looking at improving methods and exploring lifecycle impact,” commented Anderson.

A significant difference is the increased sharing across the industry and the active involvement of the entire supply chain in the discussion. Even Big Pharma is presenting data and case studies on how they have implemented improvements. In addition, packaging and device suppliers are working more closely with Big Pharma, which is leading to accelerated development.

Anderson notes that for the industry to truly meet sustainability goals it will need to stop applying bespoke solutions company by company. Instead, material suppliers should enter the debate and work across the industry with Big Pharma and device and packaging suppliers.

This approach will deliver the economies of scale needed to incentivize the development of more environmentally sustainable materials. The standardised use of materials industry-wide could make a massive improvement to current options. The industry also needs to extend this to recycling networks.

Exploring patient behaviour and their reaction to innovations is another area for improvement; for example, reducing the misuse of medicines. Approximately 50% of medicines are not correctly used by patients, ultimately leading to their waste or unnecessary alternatives then being prescribed. “Anything the industry can do to improve adherence will automatically increase sustainability,” said Anderson.

Despite the wider issues currently affecting society, Anderson urges the industry to keep up the momentum and to continue to "promote the great sustainability strides the industry has made in the last year".

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