Dec 12, 2019

Big Pharma's wastewater pollution problem

Photo: David Woodfall/Getty Images

Contaminants from drug manufacturing facilities have been tainting wastewater with dangerously high concentrations, according to an investigation from STAT.

Why it matters: Polluting rivers and lakes with pharmaceutical runoff is not illegal, but can be harmful to wildlife and the environment — and wastewater treatment plants don't have the ability to remove pharmaceuticals.

The findings:

  • The U.S. Geological Survey found that discharges from seven treatment plants had "very high levels of some drugs."
  • Downstream from a plant in Morgantown, West Virginia, an anti-seizure medication was measured at nearly 90 times the amount considered safe for wildlife.
  • Hospitals also contribute to drug pollution, releasing antibiotics and cancer drugs into the water.

Go deeper: The water crisis cities don't see coming

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Drug price hikes are back for 2020

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Pharmaceutical manufacturers have raised the sticker prices on hundreds of drugs at the start of 2020, with most of the increases coming under 10%.

The big picture: It may be a new year, but the same drugs are once again subject to the same industry practices.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Jan 6, 2020

5 major Trump environmental regulation rollbacks in 2019

President Trump on Dec. 24. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

The Trump administration so far targeted about 85 environmental regulations that protect air, water, land and public health from climate change and fossil fuel pollution, according to CNBC.

Why it matters: Eliminating these regulations can increase premature deaths from pollutants and produce higher levels of greenhouse gas emissions, according to research from the NYU Law School.

Go deeperArrowDec 24, 2019

The medications that are thrown away

Data: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services; Table: Axios Visuals

Last year, Medicare paid for $725 million worth of expensive medications administered in outpatient clinics — things like chemotherapy drugs — that ended up being discarded, according to new data released by the federal government.

Why it matters: Although that amount is just 2% of what Medicare paid for those types of infusion drugs, that's still a "very astonishing amount of waste," said Rena Conti, a health economist at Boston University who has studied the issue.

Go deeperArrowJan 6, 2020