Policy: potential environmental impact of DMTs

P
Gold K. Analysis: the impact of needle, syringe, and lancet disposal on the community. J Diabetes Sci Technol. 2011 Jul 1;5(4):848-50.

Did you know that there are over 7.5 billion needles and syringes used outside of the health care system each year by individuals with diabetes, migraines, allergies, infertility, arthritis, HIV, hepatitis, multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis, psoriasis, or other conditions?

In most countries disposal of needles, syringes, lancets, and other medical products are not regulated in the home. In comparison these same products used in health care facilities are strictly regulated. 
Home-generated medical waste may be placed into curbside trash, placing sanitation workers and custodial personnel at personal risk of a needle-stick injury. 
The Coalition for Safe Community Needle Disposal is working to establish a solution that is satisfactory to all stakeholders, sharing the burden of these programs with the pharmaceutical industry, medical device industry, waste management industry, recycling companies, and local and state governments.
“Until today this is an issue that never crossed my mind. I rarely, if ever, consider the environmental impact of the medicines I prescribe and use. I have simply assumed that because they are medicines and prescribed for a serious disease the environmental impact is justified.”

“The environmental impact of injectable or intravenous therapies may be another reason to embrace the emerging oral treatments.”

“Some of you may already be aware of  www.msdecisions.org.uk a website we run to help MS’ers make decisions about which DMT to start. Do you think we should include the environmental impact of the various DMTs on the list of factors to consider when making a decision? This is a not a trivial issue, leaving the oral DMTs aside, some of the injectables are clearly more environmentally unfriendly than others.”

About the author

Prof G

Professor of Neurology, Barts & The London. MS & Preventive Neurology thinker, blogger, runner, vegetable gardener, husband, father, cook and wine & food lover.

3 comments

  • if interferons only work in 20% of patients(as you said before Prof G) or indeed if they work at all, then yes this needs to be factored into the cost of the risk sharing scheme and what the drug companies owe the UK

  • Re: "20% of patients"

    What I was refering to is that only about 1 in 5 MS'ers on IFNbeta are disease activity free after 4 years on treatment.Disease activity free means no relapses, disease progression or MRI activity. This is important as we now have data showing that MS'ers with detectable disease activity in any form are more likely to progress in the future than those without disease activity.

  • It's pointless to consider environmental impact while choosing DMTs as it will be a drop in the ocean. Diabetics and others have to use needles anyway. Better to work on safe disposal of waste.

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