SETAC Globe - Environmental Quality Through Science
  15 September2011
Volume 12 Issue 9

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Pharmaceutical Advisory Group—Prioritisation of Issues, Research Needs, and Policy Development

By Alistair Boxall, University of York, UK

Over the past 10 to 15 years, a significant amount of work has been invested by the scientific, regulatory and business communities into the effects and risks of pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) in the environment. In order to identify the key research questions regarding the effects and risks of PPCPs in the environment, the SETAC Pharmaceutical Advisory Group (PAG), in conjunction with Health Canada, recently ran a Global 20 Question Exercise. In the first phase of the exercise, questions were solicited from the academic, government and business communities around the globe. In second phase of the exercise, selected questions were discussed at a 2-day workshop involving academics, governmental/regulatory organisations and the business sector from North America, Europe, Asia and Latin America to narrow the questions.  The final top 20 questions fell into the following categories:

  1. Prioritisation of PPCPs
  2. Routes of exposure
  3. Bioavailability and uptake
  4. Effects assessment
  5. Risk
  6. Antibiotic resistance
  7. Risk management

A manuscript describing the exercise that gives some context to the questions has been drafted and will soon be submitted to a scientific journal. The PAG see this exercise as the start of a broader programme of work and, in the short term, there are a number of activities that the group is considering to take the work forward, including: an online survey to identify which questions are  most relevant to different stakeholders and why; and conducting local workshops in Australasia, Asia and South America. In the longer term, the PAG will be communicating the conclusions of the exercise to policy makers, industry and funding bodies, through briefing notes and face-to-face meetings with a view to stimulating coordinated research programmes tackling some of the major issues identified. It is hoped that the conclusions from this prioritisation exercise will be used as a basis to focus future work on the risks of PPCPs in the natural environment. If you would like further information on the exercise or are interested in participating in future PAG activities, then please contact Alistair Boxall.

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