Automatgenererad bild.

Christina Rudén

Published

25 June 2014

Government rejects drugs and environment initiative

MistraPharma wants to create a new centre for research on pharmaceutical drugs and the environment. However, the Swedish Government recently decided against making a financial contribution. According to Programme Director Christina Rudén, this may have repercussions on the country’s scope for achieving A Non-Toxic Environment, one of the national environmental quality objectives.

Since MistraPharma’s initiation in 2008, this research programme has established a new field of research and become world-leading in the area of pharmaceuticals and environmental impact. Knowledge gained in the programme has, for example, become the basis for an entirely new interim target in the Swedish system of environmental objectives.

MistraPharma is now in its final stage, and Mistra’s funding is to end in 2015. The Programme Board therefore wishes to start a new centre of research on the environment and drugs, and has proposed that the Government should provide the requisite starting capital.

MistraPharma’s Programme Director Christina Rudén, who was recently informed that the Ministry of the Environment is unwilling to support the centre, says: ‘We’ve worked intensively to develop an offer to the Government. But they’ve got to prioritise, and it’s not as if their decision is the be-all or end-all for us.’

Five million kronor wanted

The hope was that the Government would provide annual support of SEK 5 million (some EUR 550,000) for the centre and that its research would otherwise be externally funded. In return, the centre was to offer research relevant to decision-making and serve as a support in public work to achieve A Non-Toxic Environment, the national environmental quality objective. The fact that the centre will not now materialise may impede the task of achieving this objective, Rudén says.

‘The centre we proposed would have supported the Government. The interim target for drugs is extremely ambitious, and won’t automatically achieve itself.’

In its announcement, the Ministry of the Environment writes that, ahead of the 2016 Research Policy Bill, the Swedish Research Council for Environment, Agricultural Sciences and Spatial Planning (Formas) will explore research requirements for achieving A Non-Toxic Environment. Rudén considers that there is a sufficient basis for proposing new instruments of control relating to chemicals. She sees the proposal of further investigation as ‘defensive’.

‘It’s a good thing that they’re drawing up documentation for the Research Policy Bill, but I very much hope rigorous decisions are also taken. Today, there’s already a great deal of knowledge to draw on.’

Other options

The proposed centre would also have offered scope for retaining much of the unique expertise accumulated in MistraPharma. The proposal to the Government was the programme board’s main approach, but there are other options, Christina Rudén finds. For example, programme participants have submitted two major research applications, on which decisions will be issued by the summer and in the autumn respectively. The board is also discussing how the existing network of researchers and experts could be retained even after 2015.

‘Over the past few years, the board has been working to prevent the research from going under when the funding dries up. This ambition is persisting even after the Government’s announcement. We’re always applying for funds so that the research can be kept up.’

Text: Henrik Lundström, Vetenskapsjournalisterna

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