Een meting van medicijnresten in het Nijmeegse riool in 2019.
Een meting van medicijnresten in het Nijmeegse riool in 2019.

Prioritisation and Risk Evaluation of Medicines in the EnviRonment (PREMIER)

1 September 2020 until 30 August 2026
Project member(s)
Prof. A.M.J. Ragas (Ad)
Project type

Pharmaceutical residue can lead to environmental damage. A large proportion of the medicines that we use are released into the sewer via excretion. Some substances are only partially removed by wastewater treatment plants, so that they ultimately end up in surface water or drinking water. 

This project will involve the development of a system that analyses the environmental risks of medicines. The resulting database will contain details of the environmental properties of the active ingredients in medicines, such as the degree of degradability and toxicity to fish.  This database will be linked to a decision-making system that can estimate the expected exposure and effects of substances in and on the environment.

Mapping the medical risks

Since 2006, the pharmaceutical industry has had to analyse the environmental risks of new medicines that they wish to market in Europe. The European Medicines Agency has overseen this requirement. But there are now some 1,500 to 1,800 substances on the market that predate 2006 for which there was no environmental risk assessment. The researchers are hoping that policy makers, pharmaceutical companies, water authorities, drinking water companies and hospitals will subsequently re-examine these medicines and that this will result in new measures that are better able to protect the environment.

The tools that are being developed may also theoretically be used to develop environmentally friendlier medicines, but the researchers will need to explore whether this is practically feasible. They will achieve this by encouraging discussions between drug pharmaceutical development companies and environmental scientists



Radboud University Nijmegen (coordinator), AstraZeneca AB (project leader), University of York , Rijksinstituut voor Volksgezondheid en Milieu (RIVM), TEAM-IT RESEARCH SL., Simomics Limited, F. Hoffmann-la Roche AG, Bayer Tiengesellschaft, Novartis Pharma AG  ECT Oekotoxikologie GMBH, Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri (IRFMN), Eidgenoessische Anstalt fuer Wasserversorgung Abwasserreinigung und Gewaesserschutz (EAWAG), Leuphana Universitat Luneburg, The University of Exeter, Ecologic Institut gemeinnützige GmbH, Fraunhofer Gesellschaft zur Foerderung der Angewandten Forschung e.v., Helsingin Yliopisto, Goeteborgs Universitet, Glaxosmithkline Research and Development Ltd., Bristol-Myers Squibb Company Corp, Sanofi-Aventis Echerche & Developpement, Institut de Recherches Internationales Servier, Eli Lilly and Company Limited, The European Medicines Agency, and Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp.

Contact information

More information on this research study? Questions from the media may be directed to the science editor. All other questions may be directed to the researcher.