according to Shirish Belapure
India’s pharmaceutical industry is now a global powerhouse and plays a vital role in supplying medicines and vaccines to the entire world. Although medicine remains the main focus of the pharmaceutical industry, it now pays more attention to sustainability. The COVID-19 pandemic was a call for companies to pay attention to environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) sustainability. With sustainability now a global agenda, it is important to include the Indian pharmaceutical industry as well while remaining a supplier of quality and affordable medicines to the world.
Achieving sustainability in manufacturing is currently a key point on the agenda of the pharmaceutical industry. Pharma companies will now have to specifically push SEBI after ordering top 1,000 listed companies (including pharma companies) by market capitalization to provide details of their environmental, social, governance risk options and strategies to mitigate or adapt to risks. Under a new corporate responsibility and sustainability report (BRSR) format for 2023 with financial implications.
The COVID-19 pandemic provided an excellent backdrop for companies to evaluate their environmental sustainability practices. During the pandemic, companies came together to see how they could help end the growing threat to public health. Although great feats of excellence were achieved, the development and approval of mRNA vaccines, for example, also produced a lot of waste. The world’s largest graft collection in India generated huge amounts of bio-waste from discarded containers. In addition, storage and storage of surgical masks, gloves, syringes and disinfectants and vaccines also contributed to global greenhouse gas emissions, improper disposal of waste such as masks also created toxic plastic waste.
During the pandemic, saving human lives was paramount, and the impact of waste on the environment was less important. With the benefit of hindsight, we can see that we need stronger business strategies that put sustainability first.
Now that the pandemic is on the rise, the Indian pharma sector has an opportunity to revamp its ESG approach. More companies are focusing on reducing packaging and using sustainable and biodegradable resources. However, there is still a long way to go in terms of using less plastic, paper or cardboard, or less or no cardboard in packaging. Some companies have already started. In primary packaging, Aurobindo Pharma reduced bottle sizes, removed padding (cotton/rayon/polyester coils), reduced bottle wall thickness and blister materials, thermoformed blisters instead of 3/4 layer cold blisters. reduces package size by 60 percent and material consumption by 80 percent. In secondary packaging, the company replaced physical drug guides with electronic copies in agreement with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and pharmacists who print electronic copies on patient demand.
But packaging is not the only problem. Another significant problem is the release of untreated effluents into the environment and this persistent problem has contributed to increasing the threat of antimicrobial resistance. To address this major public health challenge, Indian companies must seek industry partnerships. Our sustainability goals can best be achieved when we choose to work and collaborate with those who are interested in seeing positive change. The government has also recognized that AMR is a serious problem. In 2019, the government took an important step when India joined the Global Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Research and Development (R&D) Center as a new member.
Along with these efforts, companies need to take advantage of new and emerging technologies to see the change they want. The International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineering (ISPE) Pharma 4.0 framework recommends the use of digitization, cloud technologies and process automation to enable efficiency, consistent quality and first-time manufacturing while being environmentally sensitive.
Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories is using an intuitive and easy-to-use digital platform to streamline workflows that help company safety officers make critical decisions. Implemented in two phases, the company created smaller milestones to effectively guide the closure of critical safety actions to meet the needs of employees to improve workplace safety and meet sustainability needs.
Good technology has the ability to significantly improve overall pharmaceutical manufacturing operations, thereby helping companies meet their goals.
Shirish Belapure, Senior Technical Advisor, Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance
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