Is your glass of water half-full of pharmaceutical residues? It just might be, says Helsinki Challenge semifinalist team leader Tiina Sikanen. The environmental load of pharmaceuticals has not been considered enough, neither in drug development or end use. Instead of quick fixes for the current situation, Generation Green wants to revolutionize pharmacy education to fully integrate environmental aspects in the curricula.
At the moment, environmental education is often just a set of non-integrated and disconnected courses presenting problems, with no general view on what the challenges actually are, or what actions should be taken on an everyday level. The team plans to introduce the concept of Green Pharmacy to pharmacy education, extending to all associated fields from green office projects to top-end research and development of drug discovery and drug development processes. They will also take into account the physiological implications of our environment’s drug load, and how the decisions medical professionals make when prescribing medicines affect that load.
Changing the youth to change the world
The aim is to change a whole student generation’s entire perspective on environmental resource management. According to the team’s vision, the green generation – as well as the ones coming after them – will have a comprehensive understanding of green and sustainable research and practice, and will be able to implement these principles into their work in various fields even when they face totally new challenges we are not yet even aware of.
“This should have been done yesterday”, Sikanen underlines the urgency of Generation Green’s project. “Our methods of monitoring the levels of chemicals in our soil and water have got more and more sophisticated, and are revealing alarming things. This is not just the fault of Big Pharma companies, but it’s everyone’s responsibility to consider where the drugs they use end up.”
TEAM: Team leader Tiina Sikanen (researcher, Faculty of Pharmacy, UH), Jouni Hirvonen (Dean, Faculty of Pharmacy, UH), Pia Vuorela (Vice-dean (education), Faculty of Pharmacy, UH), Jari Yli-Kauhaluoma (Professor, Faculty of Pharmacy, UH), Reijo Kärkkäinen (university instructor, LL.M, UH), Eeva Teräsalmi (MSc, EMBA, FIP-vice president), Jaakko Teppo (PhD student, Faculty of Pharmacy, UH), Suvi Sivula, (student, Faculty of Pharmacy, UH).