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Views And Reviews The Big Picture

Just 11 years to avert disaster

BMJ 2019; 365 doi: (Published 16 April 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;365:l1801

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Re: Just 11 years to avert disaster

Alex Armitage’s report on the Extinction Rebellion movement was excellent, and I am glad he has highlighted the Public health risks of inaction on climate change.

But in the same issue, the Editor ‘s choice article ‘Pills or Public Health‘ does not mention that, globally, pharmaceuticals and medical devices contribute to a significant proportion of healthcare associated greenhouse gas emissions (from the NHS sustainable Development Unit).

The same journal reports on the 12% of new asthma cases attributable to asthma - surely the transportation of the increased numbers of statins and antihypertensives will contribute to that.

In addition, statins and antihypertensives come in single use plastic blister packs. It is my understanding that these go to landfill and few get recycled.

Is it time, in non-communicable diseases linked to lifestyle, that NICE and journals reporting on guidelines factor in the impact on the environment, natural world, and therefore human health of medications where there is debate or controversy?

In addition, having picked up large numbers of balloons from beaches and the sea over the years and even found birds tangled up in their strings, I wonder whether the image of 15 balloons making their way to the coastline may not be the best representation of setting research free.

Competing interests: No competing interests

24 April 2019
Georgie Sowman