Call on the NHS to stop buying antibiotics from polluting factories

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Hi, my name is Will and I’m a nurse.

I've been working in this field for over five years now, mostly within childhood cancer nursing. This is an area of work I'm passionate about and find hugely rewarding on a daily basis. You'd be surprised how much fun can be had in what is thought to be such a tragic area of nursing. I love my job; the patients I help and the staff I work with are amazing. 

One of the first things I learnt training to be a nurse is that antibiotics are vital for maintaining the health of our population and saving lives. However, over the past few decades we’ve been taking them for granted. As a result, they aren’t working as well as they used to, and drug-resistant infections (also known as superbugs) are becoming more and more common. This is causing well over 25,000 deaths every year in Europe alone. Experts predict that by 2050, 10 million people will die worldwide as a result of untreatable infections.

Antibiotic pollution from Indian and Chinese pharmaceutical factories is one of the factors fuelling the rise of drug-resistant infections worldwide.

How? The majority of the world’s antibiotics are made in China and India. Factories producing drugs for EU and US markets at low prices often cut corners, dumping industrial waste into the environment.

This creates a ‘breeding ground’ for the creation of superbugs, which can infect the local population.

In our globalised world, these superbugs can quickly travel across the globe. So when major purchasers, such as the NHS, buy antibiotics from these companies, they are inadvertently spreading drug-resistant infections worldwide.

Every year the NHS spends millions of pounds on tackling superbugs yet at the same time sources antibiotics from companies that are helping to create the problem in the first place!

The irony is painful: through irresponsible drug procurement the NHS is unwittingly fuelling a public health crisis which is already having a dramatic impact on lives and compromising life-saving treatments such as chemotherapy.

It can be done a different way! Countries like Sweden have started including environmental criteria in their guidelines for drug procurement, ensuring that they do not purchase drugs produced in ‘dirty’ factories. Furthermore, the NHS already has ethical procurement criteria relating to labour standards, so this would be an extension of existing NHS policy.

Please sign my petition to ask NHS officials to make the pharmaceutical industry cleans up its supply chains. 

We have to do everything in our power to stop drug resistance, but compared to other causes, pharmaceutical pollution is relatively easy to solve, and does not cost much: companies must become more responsible and put in place better production processes that already exist. Calling on the NHS to stop buying drugs from companies that recklessly pollute the environment and profit at the expense of our health will send a clear message to the industry that such practices will no longer be tolerated.

Sign the petition now and tell the NHS to stop buying drugs from dirty companies.

Thank you for your support.

Yours sincerely,