How’s your carbon footprint? Patients in the US and Europe want to know about it and are willing to choose medicines that are environmentally friendly to produce

Data from a study conducted in the US and Europe showed that drug consumers are more than interested in large pharmaceutical companies disclosing information about the carbon footprint of the drugs they produce
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A survey conducted by YewMaker, a non-profit sustainable medicines organization, of more than 1,300 people from the US, UK, France and Australia found that 84% of consumers were in favor of disclosing the carbon footprint of medicines, with the same proportion indicating that it is important for health systems to try to reduce the carbon emissions associated with drug production. This is reported by pharmaphorum.

A smaller but still significant proportion of respondents, 73%, felt it was important for physicians to have access to carbon footprint information when deciding which drugs to prescribe, and a further 84% favored choosing drugs with lower impact when the cost would be the same.

Overall, the healthcare sector is estimated to account for 4.4% of global emissions, with studies in the UK and France showing that medicines account for 25% and 33% respectively, leading to calls for the industry to shoulder the burden of reducing its impact.

The YewMaker survey, found “remarkable consistency” between the four participating countries, although it also found that very few people had thought about the environmental impact of medicines before taking part.

73% of respondents said they thought it was important that physicians have access to carbon footprint information when prescribing medications, and 53% wanted to know this information.

More than 60 health systems around the world have already committed to achieving zero carbon emissions. One major obstacle to reducing emissions is that it can be difficult to determine the true carbon footprint of medicines, as much of their emissions come from external sources rather than from their own activities.

As of last year, less than half of the top 100 companies had made time-bound commitments to net “0,” although 52 companies had already begun reporting actual emissions.

One company that has made a firm commitment in this area is AstraZeneca, whose Ambition Zero Carbon initiative aims to reduce emissions from its operations and fleet by 98% by 2026.

The company is also funding a $400 million reforestation program that will help remove its “residual emissions” from the atmosphere starting in 2030.

YewMaker is developing a toolkit to help companies assess the carbon footprint of their drugs, the MCF classifier, and said it will provide more information on the subject later this year.

“We are delighted that our fight for the environment resonates with patients and the public, who overwhelmingly support the healthcare sector’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions from medicines,” commented Nazneen Rahman, founder and CEO of YewMaker.

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