Better living through chemistry? Indian river water contains 21 pharmaceuticals

assorted pharmaceuticalsThe world is full of ironies. Many people can’t afford or get access to the drugs they need to make themselves well; meanwhile, others get more drugs than they need or want, whether they like it or not. In Pantacheru (near Hyderabad in India), recent samples of river water showed concentrations of an antibiotic high enough “to treat everyone living in Sweden for a work week”.

And it wasn’t just ciprofloxacin being detected. The supposedly cleaned water was a floating medicine cabinet — a soup of 21 different active pharmaceutical ingredients, used in generics for treatment of hypertension, heart disease, chronic liver ailments, depression, gonorrhea, ulcers and other ailments. Half of the drugs measured at the highest levels of pharmaceuticals ever detected in the environment, researchers say.

Those Indian factories produce drugs for much of the world, including many Americans. The result: Some of India’s poor are unwittingly consuming an array of chemicals that may be harmful, and could lead to the proliferation of drug-resistant bacteria.

Good old MSNBC… just in case the plight of the Indians didn’t move you, they reminded you of the drug-resistant nasties that you might encounter in your own country. This is the nasty underbelly of globalisation; industrial production moves to where it can be done most cheaply, regardless of what corners get cut in the process. Outta sight, outta mind, right? [via BLDGBLOG; image by Amanda M Hatfield]

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