Pharma firms have promised to clean up polluting factories and stop people from over using antibiotics

Billy Bambrough
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Labourers Worker At Dushanzi Petrol Chemical Factory In Xinjiang
New factory standards are expected to be brought in by the firms (Source: Getty)

Some of the world's biggest pharma firms have pledged to crack down on pollution and curb overuse of antibiotics.

A total of 13 global drugmakers, including Pfizer, Merck, Novartis, GlaxoSmithKline and Allergan, as well as Indian drugmakers Cipla and Wockhardt, said they would clean up pollution from factories making antibiotics and combat the overuse that's led to the rise of drug-resistant superbugs.

Producers plan to remove incentives to sell the drugs in larger volumes to reduce usage, and there will be a review of promotional activities by 2020.

Read more: AstraZeneca picks up approval for new antibiotic in fight against drug resistance

The announcement comes as the United Nations General Assembly in New York hosts a high-level meeting on antimicrobial resistance.

The plans include a review of supply chains to ensure antibiotic waste does not enter waterways and a set of new factory standards put together by independent experts.

There have recently been warnings over high levels of antibiotic use resulting in anti-microbial resistance — where drugs are rendered ineffective.

Ireland has the third highest antibiotic use in the EU behind Malta and Spain with 44 per cent, according to the European Commission.

Earlier this year a coalition of 54 institutional investors, which manages funds totalling $1 trillion, called on restaurant chains including McDonald’s, JD Wetherspoon, Wendy’s and Domino’s Pizza Group to curb antibiotic use in their global meat and poultry supply chains.

Read more: Restaurants urged to crackdown on use of antibiotics

In June the European Commission granted marketing authorisation for pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca for a new antibiotic.

The drug was developed in response to the need for new antibiotics to fight serious infections that are becoming increasingly resistant to existing treatments.

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