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Written by: Hanna Fleisher

Some 20 years ago, to be known as an erudite person, it was necessary to have knowledge in variety of fields, such as literature, art, history, politics, economics, etc. Recently, this list has been broadened with awareness of the global environmental situation. And if such global problems as climate change and population extinction sound familiar, then narrower ones, such as the impact of fur farms on ecosystems, do not draw attention of the general public.

For example, when conducting an ordinary patent search, Intectica team discovered another environmental problem – the ingress of drugs generally and antibiotics particularly into drinking water.

The question on how this is even possible immediately arose.

To understand it, we need to recall one of the pharmaceutical industry terms – bioavailability. Simply, it is the ability of a drug to be absorbed in the human or animal body. The higher the bioavailability, the less the drug losses during consumption in the body. Thus, from 30% to 90% of a pharmaceutical product is excreted from a living organism in feces or urine in its original form or in a converted form of metabolites.

It turned out that the presence of antibiotics in drinking water is greatly facilitated by animal husbandry and poultry farming, in which this category of drugs is used very widely. Burying or fertilizing agricultural soils with manure leads to accumulation of antibiotics in the soil. Since most antibiotics and their metabolites have a polar molecular structure, they are weakly adsorbed by the soil, which allows them to reach groundwater that is used for drinking water supply to some extent (depends on the specific country!).

In addition, the natural secretions of people who have received antibiotics also contribute a lot. Current sewage treatment systems are unable to completely remove a huge variety of antibiotics, let alone drugs in general. The most effective approaches are ozonation, powdered activated carbon treatment, or reverse osmosis treatment. However, today, considering globally, these methods are used at water treatment plants in isolated cases. Since there are already more than 7 billion of people in the world, we can estimate the scale of the problem.

As with any industry, there are leaders in the combat for a greener future. So, with a cursory search, it turned out that China is the most concerned country regarding the problem of pollution of waste and drinking water with antibiotics. The most common antibiotics are sulfonamides, diaminopyrimidines, fluoroquinolones, tetracyclines and macrolides. The search for the “tetracycline and wastewater” keywords in the title returns 22 patent documents, a search for “macrolide and wastewater” – 2 documents, and “sulfonamide and wastewater” – 7 documents. All the documents are submitted in China and describe systems and methods of water purification from a specific group of antibiotics. A broader WIPO search for “antibiotic and wastewater” keywords in the title returned 177 documents, most of which were filed in China. It is worth noting that many applications and patents are aimed at a preventive aspect, that is, the removal of antibiotics directly at the place of their formation before they enter groundwater and water bodies.

In general, it is good to improve erudition, but to probe the state of the art before filing a patent application is even better. Our scientific and patent department not only provides a detailed analysis, but also helps to identify all key trends, plan and protect your ideas in any country in the world. We bring new products to the market of all countries of the world, and also carry out direct office work in the countries of the European Union, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Russia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, you can find out more on our website.

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