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Meet Ann Lee-Jeffs, Teva’s Senior Director for Environment and Product Stewardship. Ann’s mission is a challenging one – to ensure that the process of filling the one of the world’s largest medicine cabinets has a positive impact on both people and the planet.
More than 700,000 people die every year because germs are becoming resistant to the medicines designed to kill them1. It’s a frightening statistic and the number is expected to rise significantly unless we can come together to find new solutions. One of the ways that the pharmaceutical industry can help address this is to reduce the amount of antimicrobial waste going in to the environment. This is where I come in. The impact of pharmaceuticals in the environment (PiE) is a global issue and one that we’re closely tracking. We continuously monitor progress against a set of global standards and are taking action to reduce the effect that pharmaceuticals in the environment can have. For example, a major area of focus for us is on how we handle antibiotics. By the end of 2019, we will have evaluated 85% of the antibiotics processed at our plants and put further practices in place to control and minimise antibiotic releases in to the environment. I’ve spent much of my career helping companies become healthier, safer and more environmentally sustainable. At Teva, this includes looking at ways to use more eco-friendly materials to create products, making sure workers have the information they need to stay safe, and looking at what we can do to ensure that when we dispose of materials it doesn’t cause harm. I’m passionate about Green Chemistry. This means designing processes and products that reduce or ideally get rid of hazardous materials from our lives. I did an undergraduate degree in chemical engineering that taught me how to make chemistry better and more efficient. I then followed that up with a graduate degree in environmental engineering, where I learned how to reduce and treat pollution from manufacturing sites. This job brings all that knowledge and experience together.
Before joining Teva, I had first-hand experience of dealing with a major incident at a manufacturing site involving hazardous materials. I was involved with a company whose manufacturing sites handled several carcinogenic elements such as benzene. There were concerns about benzene leaking into the environment and health implications for both workers and people living nearby. It was my job to sort out the leakage problem and then put in place plans to safely destroy the remaining hazardous material, before working on a long-term plan to eliminate the use of benzene.
Patients also have a role to play in keeping things safe. Part of my job to make sure that patients are aware of how to safely dispose of medicines, such as taking to them to a local drug store. When people keep things like this in mind, rather than flushing unwanted medicines down the toilet or throwing injectable products into the garbage, then it makes the world a safer place for people and the planet.Last year we reduced reportable environmental incidents by 79% globally. That means 162 fewer spills and releases than the previous year. It was a great result but I’m determined that we go even further. Environment, health and safety issues are critical; after all our entire purpose is to create products that improve and save lives. In my first job after graduation I was the youngest in my division and I was the only woman. As a young woman entering a male-dominated industry in the late 80s I had to work harder to prove myself and it took time to find my own leadership style. It wasn’t easy but it was a good time to enter the workforce as an environmental health and safety engineer because multinationals were investing a lot in controls and practices to keep workers safe and protect the environment.
I’m proud of the fact that we’ve reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 23% over the last 6 years. To continue to keep the focus, we’ve set an interim goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 10% by the end of 2020. From there, we intend to set a new long-term targets associated with our environmental sustainability practices which will include a new green gas emission reduction goal.
I love to mentor people and help them achieve their potential. I’ve recently volunteered in an association that brings together and supports several amazing women. I also spent four years volunteering with a program to encourage disadvantaged inner-city kids to stay in school and progress to higher education. It was amazing to see them grow from timid ninth graders to confident college students.
1Statistic taken from the Review on Antimicrobial Resistance website: https://amr-review.org/