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Toxic Consumption: Big Pharma Putting Pharmaceuticals in Water

Elizabeth Renter
April 7th, 2013
Updated 05/08/2014 at 11:44 am
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pillsinwater 235x147 Toxic Consumption: Big Pharma Putting Pharmaceuticals in Water

The United States is a consumption monster when it comes to prescription drugs. And while we are beginning to see their effects on our health and our wallets, we often don’t consider their effects on the environment and the world around us. What’s more, we don’t even know how present these drugs truly are, especially when considering how big pharma has been putting pharmaceuticals in water across the nation for years.

Pharmaceuticals in Water Thanks to Big Pharma

In 2002, federal scientists discovered that such pharmaceutical drugs are being dumped into the sewer systems and potentially finding their ways back into the drinking water.

According to MSNBC, the presence of pharmaceuticals in water at sewage treatment plants downstream from drug manufacturing facilities are much higher than the levels at plants where there are no drug makers upstream. These drugs include opiates, tranquilizers, and barbiturates, among many other active pharmaceutical ingredients.

Pharmaceutical companies are quick to say their wastewater doesn’t pollute the water systems around them, but this analysis would suggest that (like in many other situations), they aren’t being completely honest.

One drug was detected in levels “hundreds of times higher than the level at which federal regulators can order a review of a drug’s environmental impact.” That drug was the muscle relaxer metaxalone.

But the Drugs are Removed During Water Treatment, Right?

You would think that wastewater treatment plants would remove the pharmaceuticals in water along with other contaminants, but, another study from the Environmental Protection Agency, found that an antibiotic which was going down the drains at a Pfizer, Inc. factory in Kalamazoo, Mich. was still detectable after the water had been treated.

This drug, lincomycin, was found in a 2008 study to make human cancer in kidney cells and fish liver cells “proliferate” when combined in minute concentrations with other drugs. Other studies found lincomycin to act as a mutagen, actually changing the genes within algae, bacteria, fish, and microscopic aquatic animals.

At the time of these studies, Pfizer spokesman Rick Chambers admitted that they didn’t test wastewater leaving the facilities, assuring the media, however, that they were in compliance with the laws.

Many of us know the dangers of the drugs pumped into the sick and often-unaware citizens of this country. As a result of this knowledge, many of us avoid pharmaceuticals except for in extreme and emergency situations.

But, what if these substances that we work so hard to avoid, have found their way into our bodies regardless? Seeing as pharmaceuticals in water is a growing problem, it is evident that these drugs are indeed finding their way.

Though pharmaceutical companies may be following all of the “laws”, the laws don’t mandate any ethical accountability, and it’s obvious Big Pharma hasn’t written any into their policy manuals either.

Additional Sources:

NY Times

From around the web:

  • Bob Bryan

    The people we pay, our own employees, to run this country do absolutely nothing unless there's a profit that can be made. Their only concern is getting re-elected to their chair. When are we going to set term limits of 4 years? If they were put in a position to "Do or get out" they might actually do something. As of now, the majority of people are fed up yet have no say…the government always wins! Something as simple as fluoride in our water! It doesn't need to be there. We all know the dangers and toxic effects. Even the dentists know it's poison! We saw what Hitler did with fluoride to control the people but we took a cue from him anyway! Fluoride has killed the Pineal Gland so…we no longer see!

  • bertie
    This is undeniably the worst in the world –

    you might be interested to know one of the companies concerned fmc – is american – it is also the one currently raking the norwegian coast for seaweed and destroying our wildlife.

  • amazing potential

    Love this article. Water quality is a big issue right now and many people still live in ignorance as to what's in drinking water, and the amount of unwanted toxins that are going into their bodies. Thanks for the article and informing the public about water.

    • Carol

      I have a very good water filter made by Nikken, a Japanese company. It sits on my kitchen counter, has many layers of filters and has rocks for necessary minerals to be added to the purified water. I would never trust my tap water without first having it filtered.

      • Paula

        I was surprised when I called NIKKEN last year to ask what exactly their countertop aquapour gravity water filter was filtering out of my water: not enough (not even flouride!) Will you call them yourself and post the answer here as I never got a pdf/brochure? Thanks.

  • Erin

    thats disgusting. i hate living in fear because other people are dumb and greedy and ruin it for everyone else!!! i just want to have a family and live my life happily and not have babies who are severely retarded because I drank water and ate GMO food all my life. WTF. 2012… not the end of the world, but is a time that we can all choose to become more conscious. lets show em who is in charge. THE PEOPLE.!!

  • Savannah

    I worked oncology at hosp's in NC and Ga and they

    both dumped the chemo drugs down the sink.

    They either did not have a clue or just didn't care.

  • Joan McDaniel

    Hi Guys I just joined the party. I hope

    • Joan McDaniel

      I don't use facebook. I just dislike it. But I have your sites and will keep in touch. Too busy right now. It has been a while.

  • Joan McDaniel

    I am recovering from being sick, run down by my consumption of the American Diet which is void of any nutrition. I began to investigate nutrition and found a way to eat to regain my strength. I have not yet reached the Detox level yet but am working toward it. It takes time.

    Read my story at my web site listed above. I am a nurse I see lots and lots of medications just thrown away. A rule says we can not keep meds if they are older than 1 month.

    • Toni

      Joan McDaniel, I didn't see your website. I would be interested in reading your story. You can find mine at

      • Alexander


        The link can be found when you click his name. Regardless, is his site. I am running through his articles to see which one he is referring to…

  • Dewey Fish

    It's a little Late to Bar the Gates, Kate… Big Pharma Has been dumping this crap into the water for years, So weather you take this drugs or Not, You are taking these drug…

    But Hell Why not?? After all we have been medicated without our permission for over 60 Years with Water Fluoridation which is the by product of industry in the for of Smokestack Scrubber waste…

    Indusrt is said to pollute the bioshper3 to the tume of $5 Billions Dollars a year, But now that number is probably closer to $10 Billion a Year…

    With the Help of Congress, Don't expect this to stop anytime soon…

    THis is Simply Agenda 21 in action, and it seems to be working Beautifully… Congress is GREAT at Killing us but all thumbs when it comes toHelping …

    It is Plain and simple, Through All of these Frackers in Jail, ALL OF THEM…

  • Franky Freedom

    Whether the drugs are dumped directly into the water or seep down through the ground into the water cycle the bottom line is that these drugs are going to enter the food/water cycle at SOME point. The problem is only going to get worse as the sheer amount of drugs produced continues to increase. This is IN ADDITION to all of the other industrial chemicals entering the environment.


  • abinico

    If I was a superstitious person, I would probably belive that big pharma is run by Satan, and all execs are devil worshipers – but that would be just plain to weird.

    • zul8r

      no that would be correct.

      • Phuc Yu

        Ditto… have you seen the pigs that run these places and the multi billion dollar bonuses paid to their top people each year… of COURSE they'd pull this shit to… and from your response, it's clear you would too

  • Dave

    You have to fast the rest of your life. Detox and juice your veggies otherwise everybody is doomed with this polluted world idiots and evil people who ruin it all.