Communication Strategies for the Handling of Pharmaceuticals

ISOE developed a communication strategy for the Federal Environmental Agency (UBA). It was intended to reduce the input of pharmaceuticals into water bodies. 

The communication manual

The project team compiled a communication handbook for the Federal Environmental Agency (UBA). The aim was to achieve a reduction in active pharmaceutical substances entering water bodies through precautionary measures and enlightenment. The manual was designed to support staff at the UBA, but it also targets interested professional associations and institutions involved in the subject area. These include doctors' and dispensing chemists' organisations, environmental associations, municipal and regional authorities, and providers of seminars for professionals. Empirical results from the predecessor project formed the basis for developing this communication strategy. 


The manual consists of an introductory section on the environmental relevance of human-use pharmaceuticals and on risk awareness in society. It provides communication rules drawn from an international analysis of communication materials and campaigns on the subject. 

The bulk of the manual comprises recommendations for communicating with the target groups general public, doctors, and dispensing chemists. Each of these target groups required its own individual strategy in order to convey the respective message especially effectively. 


Residues of active pharmaceutical ingredients are today found in virtually all of Germany's water bodies: surface water, groundwater, and in isolated cases even drinking water. The path by which human-use pharmaceuticals enter the water cycle leads partly via correct intake, following which the active ingredients or their metabolites are eliminated from the body and end up in the sewage flow. Drug residues also end up in wastewater due to improper disposal via the toilet. 


Federal Environmental Agency (UBA)


Handbook Communication Strategies for Sharpening Environmental Awareness in the Handling of Pharmaceutical Drugs. Konrad Götz/Corinne Benzing/Jutta Deffner/Florian Keil (2011). ISOE-Studientexte, No. 16 Download (pdf, 9 MB)


2008/12 – 2010/03