One man’s medicine, another man’s poison : Environmental pollution from pharmaceutical manufacturing in Andhra Pradesh, potential sustainability measures and the role of Swedish actors.

University essay from Linköpings universitet/Tema vatten i natur och samhälleLinköpings universitet/Filosofiska fakulteten


Outsourcing of pharmaceutical manufacturing processes from developed countries to emerging economies such as India and China, has become increasingly frequent during the last decade. Simultaneously, impacts and risks associated with pharmaceuticals in the environment, particularly from manufacturing of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs), have gained recognition as major threats to sustainable development, locally (due to pollution of ground- and surface water) as well as globally (due to risks with antibiotic resistance development). The purpose with this study is to examine the pollution situation in two main locations for API manufacturing in Andhra Pradesh, and its challenges, as well as the eventual possibilities and barriers to improve the situation.Based on semi-structured interviews with local stakeholders from industry, government and NGOs, site observations and community visits in affected areas, as well as a literature review,a critical examination of the situation and its potential sustainability measures was made. Furthermore, the connection to- and role of Swedish actors were explored. The study finds that there are major institutional challenges rather than technological ones, obstructing substantial improvements from taking place. Potential possibilities for pollution abatement include local initiatives e.g. alternative regulatory approaches as well as initiatives by international actors, such as large procurers of pharmaceuticals e.g. the Swedish county councils, which with policy instruments such as Green Public Procurement (GPP), pro-active and internationally coordinated efforts, could contribute to an improved situation.

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