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Trends in Pharma

The role of Medical Affairs in cutting CO2 Emissions

Written by Natalia Denisova, PhD VP, Head of Medical Affairs MphaR
March 9, 2023

The harrowing effects of global warming and continuous climate change pose extraordinary risks to public health. What's ironic is the fact that health industries throughout the globe massively contribute to this crisis. According to associate professor of anaesthesiology, Jodi Sherman M.D., who teaches at the Yale School of Medicine, the global healthcare sector is, by and large, one of the biggest polluters in the world. 

Sherman states that the industry should be accountable and must respond to the slew of deadly effects caused as a result of global warming. More specifically, the pharmaceutical industry stands at the very top of the line in terms of producing massive amounts of greenhouse gases and CO2 emissions in the world.  

How Much Greenhouse Gas Emissions are Produced by Pharma Industries?

The amount of greenhouse gas emissions directly produced by global pharmaceutical companies is calculated to be more than 50 megatons of carbon dioxide per annum. This excludes the level of pollution in terms of emissions caused by other key factors such as processing plants, production, storage, supply chain, transportation, refrigeration, etc. 

The rising level of greenhouse gas emissions in the environment is rapidly leading to adverse changes in weather patterns across the globe. The sea levels are rising, and the glaciers are melting at an alarming rate. The negative effects of global warming are all around us, droughts are becoming more common, natural habitats for animals are being destroyed and we're seeing more dangerous and destructive thunderstorms and monsoon seasons. 

With an onslaught of emissions and greenhouse gases, environmental experts and scientists speculate that we'll soon see irreversible plunges in food supplies and it's likely more people will lose their lives in the future. According to a report in 2019, it was identified that the world would witness a total spike in adult deaths in the next two decades, with loss of lives predicted to be more than 525,000 every year, due to global warming.  

It is ironic because the primary objective of pharmaceutical industries throughout the world is to help enable human beings to lead healthier lives. But how can this be achieved if the world continues to decay? It is important to understand that we're intrinsically linked with Mother Nature. This is the reason why pharma companies must adjust their vision, at its very core, and strive to lower their carbon footprint, achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions. 

Pharma Companies are Overtaking the Automotive Sector in Emissions 

If we talk about the revenue made by the pharmaceutical industry, as per financial research in 2019, it's easy to determine that the sector produces more than 47 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions for every $1 million earned, which is 55% more than what vehicle manufacturers produce. Compared to pharma, the automobile sector generates more than 31 tonnes of CO2 per $1 million earned.  

One of the most distinguishing elements between both these industries is the adoption of streamlined digital innovations and types of machinery used. Automotive manufacturers use artificial intelligence-based machinery combined with digital product enhancement innovations. In addition, the automotive industry also utilizes workflow-control algorithms, which play an instrumental role in lowering energy-based waste. 

You see, along with CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions, the pharmaceutical sector along with the total healthcare supply chain, function with continuously growing unsustainability. For instance, the healthcare system generates more wastewater as a result of unoptimized cleaning processes. Plus, some dangerous chemicals and solvents aren't disposed of properly and a lot of medications expire before they are used by patients. Pharma companies overproduce medications just to make sure that consumer demand is adequately met.  

How Pharmaceutical Companies are Striving to Lower Carbon Emissions 

During the Covid-19 outbreak, nationwide lockdowns completely put a halt to overseas travelling. However, this did not financially impact pharmaceutical companies throughout the world. As restrictions were lifted in 2021, the pharma industry was in a strategic position to highlight its dedication, innovation, and skills in helping reduce its carbon footprint. In other words, the pandemic served as a catalyst to prong pharma companies into action. As a result, a lot of companies throughout the globe made a powerful commitment to minimize the emissions caused by unnecessary travelling, which was also in line with the Paris Agreement and the crackdown on global warming by many governments in different countries. 

How MphaR Green Initiative helps Pharma companies and especially Medical Affairs keep CO2 Emissions under control 

Post-Covid 19, we saw a tremendous shift in the modern workplace. Medical companies along with several other industries encouraged their employees to work from home. At MphaR, we developed a slew of cutting-edge and highly innovative digital platforms that can be used by pharma companies worldwide, to help fight global warming and strive to achieve net zero emissions. 

As part of the Green Initiative, MphaR designed state-of-the-art virtual platforms to help medical professionals in various industries, including pharma, gather key insights and data from a flurry of experts across multiple countries. The digital ecosystem helps unite companies and experts for a more streamlined, simplistic, and focused effort. Users are given the opportunity to personalize their team collaboration and utilize tools without any interruptions and/or delays. 

As a result, MphaR's virtual infrastructure promotes more diverse and sustainable efficiencies when it comes to attending important meetings and conferences. This is especially true for pharma companies, where professionals have to travel around the world. MphaR's virtual portals completely mitigate the need for travel as their digital ecosystem is designed and developed to enable companies and medical experts to perform multiple interactions and activities on the same platform. For example, medical professionals will be able to read published educational materials and seamlessly access critical data in line with their long-term business objectives 

Bottom Line

As nations across the world focus on stabilizing their economies post-Covid, deep emphasis is now given to helping our world heal through cleaner, healthier, and sustainable practices. In light of this, the use of digital technologies and virtual environments cannot be overemphasized in terms of how these innovations have proven to help medical companies achieve sustainable resilience.

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