Wynne Armand is a primary care physician at Massachusetts General Hospital, assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, faculty editor of Mass General Brigham’s internal knowledge network for primary care physicians, member of MGH Center for the Environment and Health team, Harvard Health contributing editor, and a Public Voices Fellow of The OpEd Project.
As a physician, I determine the most appropriate medications for my patients by answering a series of questions: How well does this drug work? Could there be drug interactions? Is it affordable?
Usually, I can find answers. But there is one question for which no answer is readily available for me as prescriber, nor for you as consumer: What is this drug’s environmental impact compared to acceptable alternatives?
Unquestionably, pharmaceuticals save lives. Yet they also contribute to shocking downstream environmental consequences. Active chemicals used in medications that end up in industrial, animal, and human waste may persist in treated effluents and find their way into drinking water, agriculture, and freshwater. For example, ethinyl estradiol, a synthet... Read more