Antibiotics Resistance

Limiting the Anti-Biotic Pollution and Anti-microbial resistance (AMR)


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Anti-microbial resistance (AMR)

Mains level: Anti-biotic Pollution, Anti-microbial resistance (AMR) and its impact



  • Almost half, or 43 per cent, of the world’s rivers are contaminated with active pharmaceutical ingredients in concentrations that can have disastrous ramifications on health. The industry must prioritize wastewater management and process controls to limit antibiotic pollution and Anti-microbial resistance (AMR). 18-22 November is observed as World Antimicrobial awareness week.

What is Anti-microbial resistance (AMR)?

  • Antimicrobial resistance (AMR or AR) is the ability of a microbe to resist the effects of medication that once could successfully treat the microbe
  • Antibiotic resistance occurs naturally, but misuse of antibiotics in humans and animals is accelerating the process.
  • A growing number of infections – such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, gonorrhoea, and salmonellosis – are becoming harder to treat as the antibiotics used to treat them become less effective.
  • It leads to higher medical costs, prolonged hospital stays, and increased mortality.


Importance of Pharma Industry

  • Important sector of economy: The recently adopted Glasgow Climate Pact has called upon countries to facilitate the adoption of greener technologies to phase out the use of fossil fuels. The development and deployment of such technologies is also critical for the pharmaceutical sector that has formed the backbone of the growth of many economies including India.
  • Improving the health outcomes: The Pharma sector plays a fundamental role in improving health outcomes through the invention of life-saving products.
  • 20% of global supply of medication: Pivoting to sustainable waste management and process-control practices assumes acute significance in the Indian context. India already accounts for 20 per cent of the global supply of medication, making it the largest supplier of generic medicines worldwide.


Anti-biotic Pollution and Anti-microbial resistance (AMR)

  • Pharmaceutical pollution in the country: Recently, widescale pharmaceutical pollution has been reported across the country, particularly in pharmaceutical hubs like Himachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, and Telangana.
  • Untreated waste release into rivers: The release of untreated effluents into the soil and water bodies add to the pollution of the environment during the manufacturing of various pharmaceuticals, including antibiotics. Further, untreated antibiotic residues also accelerate the build-up of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
  • High emission intensity: Pharma sectors emission intensity is 55 per cent more than the automotive sector.
  • AMR is public health threat: AMR is often dubbed as one of the top 10 public health threats facing humanity. It occurs when disease-causing pathogens develop a resistance against the pharmaceuticals that could have neutralized them. In 2019, AMR accounted for more than half a million deaths in the European region and about five million globally.
  • Accumulation of AMR in ecosystem: The build-up of AMR can happen due to several factors across the human, animal, and environmental ecosystems.

Government policies to prevent Anti-biotic pollution in India

  • National Action Plan on AMR (NAP-AMR): India’s production capacity is all set to expand further with the government’s recent impetus on the domestic production of pharmaceuticals. Against this background, the country’s National Action Plan on AMR (NAP-AMR) called for limiting pharmaceutical pollution.
  • Surveillance of residues discharged: Strategic Pillars 2 and 3 under the NAP-AMR focused on developing frameworks for the surveillance of residues discharged in the environment and developing a plan to reduce the environmental impact on AMR, respectively. However, this policy impetus is yet to translate into on-ground implementation.
  • Benefits to manufacturers with greener practices: The government can take a cue from countries like the United Kingdom, Norway, Sweden and Germany, among others, which have policies in place that provide benefits to manufacturers with greener practices.

How pharmaceutical industry can improve its waste management?

  • Use of innovative technologies: Adopting innovative technology and self-regulation can help the industry reduce its carbon footprint and minimize its environmental impact.
  • State-of-art API technology: Centrient Pharmaceuticals Netherlands BV’s plant at Toansa, Punjab, where the adoption of state-of-art API technology led to a 60-62 per cent reduction in the plant’s carbon footprint.
  • Regulating the discharge: The AMR Industry Alliance (AMRIA) has developed the Predicted No-Effect Concentrations (PNEC) criteria further to facilitate the industry in regulating its discharge of effluents.
  • Strict compliance of guidelines: The compliance to PNEC value for Centrist’s oral API product line and supply chain has helped the company reduce the environmental impact of manufacturing.


  • The containment of AMR in India is crucial for realizing several policy goals, including the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. While collective action is needed from various stakeholders, the domestic pharmaceutical industry should also take the lead, especially in limiting antibiotic pollution.

Mains Question

Q. Explain the linkages between Anti-biotic pollution and anti-microbial resistance (AMR). How government and pharma industry join the hands to reduce the anti-biotic pollution?

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