New environmental criteria for the procurement of pharmaceuticals

This week, as Norwegian Hospital Procurement Trust prepares to procure new antibiotics, there will be new environmental criteria in place for the procurement of pharmaceutical products.

Suppliers will now be rewarded for their efforts to meet these environmental criteria.  

Emissions and pollutants associated with the manufacturing of pharmaceutical products has become a significant problem in several countries, especially in the production of antibiotics.

Norwegian Hospital Procurement Trust (Sykehusinnkjøp HF) is therefore collaborating with our owners of the regional health authorities, the environmental group of the Norwegian Association of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers (LMI), representatives from generic suppliers, the Norwegian Medicines Agency, and colleagues in Sweden to learn how we can ensure environmental criteria through responsible procurement, which in time will contribute toward the reduction of emissions and pollution.   

Challenging work

Bente Hayes, Procurement Director for pharmaceutical products at Sykehusinnkjøp HF.
The pharmaceutical division at Sykehusinnkjøp HF effectuates the procurement of pharmaceutical products on a national basis for all health authorities in the country. When preparing a new procurement of antibiotics, suppliers that can document good environmental efforts during the manufacturing process will, for the first time, be rewarded in the procurement process.

Preferred criteria that will be emphasised include the supplier's environmental policy, environmental strategy and control system for environmental issues.

- This has been challenging, but we are pleased that we can now execute the first procurement of pharmaceutical products involving new environmental criteria. If this trial period is successful, we will consider whether to set environmental criteria for other procurements, states Bente Hayes, Procurement Director for pharmaceutical products at Sykehusinnkjøp HF. 

Much of manufacturing of pharmaceutical products takes place in countries such as India and China, where there are few and insufficient regulations for preventing harmful emissions. Efforts to establish international regulations have also been unsatisfactory.

-  There are ongoing efforts to ensure legislation, however until such legislation is in place, someone must be willing to lead the way. We are currently cooperating with Sweden on the issue, and hope to achieve a broad Nordic cooperation in this area in time, says Hayes.

Weighted by 30 percent

In the new procurement of antibiotics, environmentally friendly production will be weighted by 30 percent as allocation criteria. The challenges we have today related to secure deliveries means that we cannot entirely reject pharmaceutical products if they do not meet environmental criteria.

However, despite these challenges, Sykehusinnkjøp HF firmly believes that the environmental criteria will have a positive impact.

- Due to the delivery situation, we cannot set absolute requirements, and we must choose the supplier that is relatively best in terms of environmental performance. At the same time, we have noted that the broad supplier market is positive to the new environmental criteria for pharmaceutical product procurement, says Hayes.

Need for additional knowledge

Antibiotic pollution in nature may lead to antibiotic resistance, and now with the new environmental criteria, Sykehusinnkjøp wishes to contribute toward reducing this risk.

- There is every reason to believe that emissions and pollutants may have further consequences beyond the problem of resistance. There is therefore a need for additional knowledge on the impact of emissions and pollutants from pharmaceutical products on nature, says Hayes.