Bipartisan Pharmaceutical Modernization Effort Has Positive Environmental Impacts

Bipartisan Pharmaceutical Modernization Effort Has Positive Environmental Impacts

8.5 billion pounds CO2 could be saved by avoiding paper waste.

WASHINGTON – A bipartisan effort in Congress to pass the Prescription Information Modernization Act would have a positive impact on the environment, according to the Environmental Paper Network-North America. The organization estimates that the equivalent of 8.52 billion pounds of CO2 could be saved from emission in a single year if the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) 2014 rule regarding prescribing information (PI) was allowed to move forward. These avoided emissions are from the approximately 90 billion sheets of paper per year to print the PI needed for the 6 billion prescriptions that are filled every year. According to the EPN, modernizing the distribution of prescribing information could save approximately 500,000 tons of paper per year, equivalent to 1.8 million tons of wood and 10.9 million trees.

“Pharmacists and prescribers already rely almost exclusively on digital versions of prescribing information to ensure real-time access to updated information, and paper versions of this information can be made available upon request,” said Joshua Martin, Director of the Environmental Paper Network-North America. “Therefore, requiring paper prescribing information is a textbook example of how outdated regulations can cause wasteful overconsumption of valuable resources. It presents an opportunity to modernize systems in order to protect our valuable natural resources and reduce pollution, while preserving paper options when they are truly needed.”

The legislation authorizes the FDA to advance a 2014 proposed rule that would allow for PI, information provided by drug manufacturers to prescribers and pharmacists describing the safe and effective use of a drug, to be transmitted electronically. This is not the information provided to patients. Since the FDA first proposed the rule to modernize PI, the appropriations process in Congress has been used to stop its implementation. Currently, PI is provided to prescribers and pharmacists as a bulky paper attachment and is separate from the information provided to patients. On average, PI is 15 pages long. Developing, printing, and delivering updates to paper

PI through the supply chain takes on average 8 to 12 months, meaning that the information providers receive is outdated by the time they receive the paper version.

The legislation is being sponsored by Representatives Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11) and John Curtis (UT- 03) and currently has 22 cosponsors from both parties.

A broad coalition of stakeholders support the Prescription Information Modernization Act, including the American Pharmacists Association (APhA), AbbVie, Allergy & Asthma Network, AmerisourceBergen, Amgen, Association for Accessible Medicines (AAM), Bayer, Beyond Type 1, Biotechnology Innovation Organization, Bio NJ, Bristol Myers Squibb, Boomer Esiason Foundation, Eli Lilly and Company, Fresenius Kabi, Healthcare Distribution Alliance (HDA), HealthCare Institute of New Jersey (HINJ), Johnson & Johnson, LUNGevity Foundation, Lupin, McKesson, Merk, National Grange, New York BIO, North Carolina Biosciences Organization, Pfizer, Teva, Viatris, Zero Cancer, BioUtah, Georgia Bio, Texas Healthcare and Biosciences Institute (THBI), Maryland Tech Council.

“This legislation will give pharmacists access to real time updates to reliable and trusted prescription drug information. This is important for managing patients’ medications and contributing to safe medication use,” according to a statement from the American Pharmacists Association.

The environmental impact estimates were calculated using the Environmental Paper Network Paper Calculator Version 4.0. More information on these estimates is available here. The full Paper Calculator report on the environmental impacts of the Prescription Information Modernization Act is available here.

More information on the Prescription Information Modernization Act is available by clicking here.