Two and a half years ahead of the European Commission, the ETUI with the EBN has unveiled a list of 121 hazardous medicinal products (HMPs) commonly used in the healthcare sector that can cause cancer or reproductive disorders in professionals who are exposed to them on a daily basis. The formalisation of this list is particularly important as staff are poorly informed about the risks involved.

Today the EBN in partnership with ETUI presented a webinar titled “Cancer risks in healthcare workers: identification of Hazardous Medicinal Products (HMPs)”. The full presentation is available: HERE

Ian Lindsley, Secretary of the European Biosafety Network and Tony Musu, senior researcher in the health and safety and working conditions of the ETUI, discussed the identification and new listing of HMPs commonly used in the healthcare sector which can cause cancer or reproductive disorders in professionals exposed to them on a daily basis.

The adoption of EU Directive 2022/431 requires the Commission to draw up its list of hazardous medicinal products by 5 April 2025. At a time when cancer has become the leading cause of work-related deaths in the EU, with more than 100 000 deaths each year, and when hospital staff such as nurses are already in the frontline of exposure, as well as being understaffed in most institutions, the ETUI questions this abnormally long delay. ‘These dangerous drugs could be identified now in order to avoid the occupational cancers they cause,” adds Tony Musu, Senior researcher at the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI).

The revision of EU directive 2022/431 – on 9 March 2022 – requires employers to inform and train all employees exposed to hazardous medicinal products on the prevention of health risks where they are manufacturing them, transporting them, preparing them in factories and pharmacies, injecting them into patients, cleaning up their residues and ensuring their safe disposal. In total, nearly 13 million workers are affected in Europe, including 7.3 million nurses‘The battle we have been waging for several years at European level for the inclusion of dangerous medicines in the directive on the protection of workers from the risks related to exposure to carcinogens, mutagens or reprotoxic substances aims to raise awareness among health professionals of the risks of work-related cancers, but also to harmonise and strengthen their prevention,’ explains Tony Musu. (See his interview on the revision of the Directive)

The impact of reprotoxic substances

Occupational exposure to these hazardous medicinal products can lead to various health issues such as respiratory problems, hair loss, loss of taste or various types of infection.

The directive also includes, for the first time, risks to reproductive health. Exposure in the workplace to these so-called reprotoxic substances, whose consequences are invisible in the short term, can result in tragedy over time. Such consequences include reduced fertility, sterility, erectile dysfunction, menstrual or ovarian cycle disorders, miscarriage, stillbirths, premature delivery or the delivery of babies with low birth weights, congenital malformations and even developmental disorders in children.

You can watch the presentation webinar which took place on 12/10/2022: HERE