Medicines imported from environmental dumping ground

Swedish imports of medicine are contributing to a growing environmental disaster in southern India, according to an investigation by Swedish Radio News.

Joakim Larsson, a medical researcher from Sahlgrenska Akademi in Gothernburg has found traces of drugs made in Hydrabad in more than 70 Swedish products, including blood pressure medication, anti-depressive drugs and particularly antibiotics.

He travelled to Hyderabad to study the effect effluents from medical factories are having on local drinking water. And at one water treatment plant he found levels of harmful chemicals in drinking a thousand times higher than in Europe.

But Larssson says you don’t need to be a scientist to notice something is wrong in the city.

“You just need to look around and smell it. We passed by a lake there that stank so bad of chemicals that you had a pain in your chest after a few minutes and you could feel it for the rest of the day,” he said.

Charlotte Unger, environmental chief at the Swedish Medical Products Agency, admits that not enough has been done to check up on imported medicines that threaten people’s health in developing countries.

“We’ve tended to accept that medicines have such as good affect on us that we’ve overlooked the environmental disadvantages,” she told Swedish Radio.

“And we’ve been bad about setting international standards for manufacturing. For example there are no limits for the quantity of antibiotics you can release as effluent.”

She added that the Swedish government has asked the agency to draw up proposals for European Union regulations to enforce environmental rules on all medical companies that export to Europe.


Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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