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In earlier experiments, lincomycin acted as a mutagen, changing genetic information in bacteria, algae, microscopic aquatic animals and fish.
Pfizer spokesman Rick Chambers said that while the company does not test wastewater from the facility for the drugs made on site, "compliance with all environmental, health and safety laws is imperative to our business operations worldwide."
The two domestic studies follow a burst of recent research in Asia and Europe that has started to link factories to the presence in water of drugs including the antibiotic sulfamethoxazole, the pain reliever diclofenac and the anticonvulsant carbamazepine, as well as an antihistamine, female sex hormones and aspirin.
Researchers in India, where multinational companies have increasingly turned for the manufacture of raw pharmaceutical ingredients, found that 100 pounds a day of the antibiotic ciprofloxacin enters a river from a wastewater treatment plant that processes sewage from dozens of pharmaceutical makers.
In Switzerland, a study sponsored by drugmaking giant Roche documented that 0.2 percent of active pharmaceutical ingredients escape during its own processing. That kind of loss rate doesn't sound like a lot until it's projected out over the entire annual production of drugs worldwide. Studies in Taiwan and China also suggest drugmaking plants discharge product.
All of which raises questions about U.S. manufacturing.
"Is it as bad in the U.S. as it is in India? Probably not. But it does make me think we should test," said Kyla Bennett, a former EPA enforcement officer who is now an ecologist and environmental attorney.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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