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Super exciters from pharmaceutical factories are becoming a global danger
Almost all major pharmaceutical companies have their medicines manufactured in India. Media research has now shown that large quantities of antibiotics can be found in the environment around these production sites. This can create dangerous, resistant pathogens that spread worldwide.
Complicit in the pharmaceutical industry
The increase in resistance to antibiotics presents the healthcare system with an ever increasing challenge. Just last year, an EU commission warned of massively increasing antibiotic resistance. If the problem is not brought under control soon, researchers face a horror scenario. According to an older study by the Berlin Charité, there could be around ten million deaths from multi-resistant germs by 2050. According to current media reports, the pharmaceutical industry also appears to be contributing to the spread of dangerous pathogens worldwide.
Fighting antibiotic resistance
In recent years, more and more governments and experts have announced that they want to step up the fight against antibiotic resistance.
Federal Minister of Health Hermann Gröhe said: “It cannot leave anyone indifferent that more and more people worldwide are dying from germs that are resistant to antibiotics. We have to fight antibiotic resistance with determination - nationally and internationally. ”
But what do you do if companies of all kinds, which are supposed to help solve the problem, play a major role in causing it?
Globalization of pathogens
Research by NDR, WDR and Süddeutscher Zeitung have shown that large antibiotic factories in India could contribute to the development of multi-resistant bacteria due to a lack of wastewater treatment.
As reported by the dpa news agency, water samples taken in the immediate vicinity of pharmaceutical factories in Hyderabad in November 2016 showed a concentration of residues of antibiotics and antifungal agents that were sometimes a hundred or even a thousand times higher than previously suggested in German limit values.
Arne Rodloff, a microbiologist at Leipzig University Hospital, explained that bacteria in water quickly developed defense mechanisms against antibiotics.
And the Leipzig infection researcher Christoph Lübbert added that the resistant pathogens could get into the human body through direct contact with this water or through the food chain, for example into the intestine.
According to the experts, this could result in common antibiotics no longer working in the event of infections and, in the worst case, patients may even die.
In connection with the sewer that he saw in Hyderabad near the factories, Lübbert spoke of a "bioreactor in the open air" and said: "This is a globalization of the pathogens."
Tourists contribute to the spread of dangerous pathogens
Tourism also contributes to the worldwide spread of multi-resistant pathogens.
"A large proportion of travelers who visit a country with low hygiene standards bring multi-resistant intestinal germs to their home country," reported the CRM Center for Travel Medicine last year.
Many travelers with these bacteria are also returning from India.
European inspectors must not take environmental issues into account
However, it is also problematic that, for example, there are no corresponding regulations in Europe in connection with the production of medicines.
Medicines would be checked for quality before being imported into the EU, but inspectors should not take environmental aspects into account.
As Rolf Hömke, spokesman for the Association of Researching Pharmaceutical Manufacturers, explained at the request of the German Press Agency, the allegation of environmental pollution from drug production in emerging countries has been raised several times.
According to the information, the companies of the association agreed last September on measures to trace the manufacture, but not all German pharmaceutical companies fully support them.
Federal Minister of Health Hermann Gröhe also believes that better industrial and environmental standards are necessary. "The general rule is that companies must not contaminate the water with dangerous substances," said the minister.
"It is imperative that pharmaceutical companies treat their wastewater appropriately, everywhere, including in emerging countries."
Reduce antibiotic use
The authors of the television documentary “The invisible enemy - deadly super exciters from pharmaceutical factories”, which will be broadcast on ARD on Monday (10:45 pm), see the reasons for the production conditions abroad in the price war on the pharmaceutical market.
Today, 80 to 90 percent of production takes place in countries such as India or China, so that antibiotics can be offered as cheaply as possible.
In India, the concerns of the researchers met with criticism, according to the dpa. “It is nonsense to correlate industrial waste water with the transfer of resistant bacteria to humans. The processes are much more complicated, ”said Chandra Bhushan, deputy managing director of the Think Tanks Center for Science and Environment (CSE) in New Delhi.
The phenomenon of resistant germs exists worldwide. “The United States is the largest consumer of antibiotics. You can find antibiotic residues in every chicken meat product. ”
According to experts, the most important point in the fight against antibiotic resistance is to reduce the mass use of such drugs. Because the excessive use of antibiotics in humans and in animal fattening as well as improper use of the medicines promotes the development of resistance. (ad)