European Expert Group on Hazardous Drugs

European Expert Group on Hazardous Drugs

Posted on May 8, 2017

The European Biosafety Network (EBN) brought healthcare professions together in Brussels, including European and International Associations of professionals and practitioners as well as academic experts, explaining best practice in monitoring, contamination findings and prevention of exposure to hazardous drugs in healthcare (often hospitals), to exchange views on Hazardous Drugs, and agree on what needs to be done and link activities to the European Parliament, the European Commission and EU-OSHA. The participants were: Juraj Sykora & Aida Batista (EAHP), Joao Jose Joaquim (EAPT), Paul De Raeve (EFN), Rosa Orriols (ICOH), Jose Luis Cobos (Spanish Nursing Council), Johan Vandenbroucke & Tiene Bauters (ISOPP), Kate Ling (HOPE), Paul Sessink (Exposure Control), Olga Delgado (Spanish Association of Hospital Pharmacists), Patrick Crombez (EONS), Richard Price (ECCO), Klaus Meier (ESOP), and Ian Lindsley (EBN).

According to the European Commission, every year more than 20 million workers in Europe are exposed to carcinogenic, mutagenic, reprotoxic hazardous drugs, including cytotoxic drugs. In 2012, between 57.700 and 106.500 cancer deaths were attributed to work-related exposure to carcinogenic substances, making cancer the first cause of work-related deaths in the EU. While the majority of occupational hazards have been successfully addressed by legislation at the European and national level, much remains to be done when it comes to the exposure of healthcare workers to chemical risks during activities such as the preparation and administration of cytotoxic drugs used to treat patients with cancer.

The European Parliament and the European Commission are currently updating the Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive and MEPs have submitted amendments to clarify and address the risks of hazardous drugs in healthcare. However, what is lacking in practice is a harmonised European approach to the prevention of exposure of healthcare professionals and workers to hazardous drugs.

The Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive Proposal in the European Parliament seeks to revise the limit values in Directive 2004/37/EC on the protection of workers from the risks related to exposure to carcinogens or mutagens at work and to revise or to introduce exposure limit values for 13 chemical agents. The Expert group took this opportunity to discuss amendments to be tabled in the next round.