Collaborative Public Health Project

Organisation: Wessex Water

Location: Bath and North East Somerset

Type: Case Studies & Projects

Link: Visit Website

A project to research options to reduce pharmaceuticals entering the environment through two intervention pathways: social prescribing and disposal of unused medicines.

The increasing use of medicines raises concentrations of pharmaceuticals in the environment (PiE), particularly in water sources such as rivers. Of the three potential sources of PiE, patient use, improper disposal and point source from the production of medicines; this project targets the first two.

Wessex Water have estimated costs of £2.2 billion to achieve a c.80% reduction of PiE at the treatment works serving populations over 10,000.  The two project pathways, therefore, look to manage the problem before it enters the system, by one encouraging consumers to dispose of unused medicines
via pharmacies instead of disposal down sinks or toilets, and two social interventions to reduce prescribing and use of pharmaceuticals for non-communicable diseases such as depression or Type 2 diabetes. Diseases that can be addressed through primary care within the community and other
means e.g. exercise, purpose and social interaction. Benefits extend beyond the environment, with social benefits for both community and individual.

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