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A new EU proposal to protect people and planet by reducing F-gases

Date: 01/08/2022

The health of people and the environment are closely interconnected. In fact, many conditions, including heart and respiratory diseases, are linked to air pollution[1], which in many cities goes far beyond the set limits. This has serious implications, including an increase in hospitalisations, which undoubtedly adds pressure on already overburdened health systems[2].


Therefore, "it is necessary to act quickly[3]"- said during a recent interview published in Euractiv Alessandro Chiesi, Chief Commercial Officer of the Chiesi Group, adding: "This is important also because a very significant economic burden is to be expected, and we are already experiencing it.[4]


Since there are no more doubts about the damage caused by climate change, politics has to adopt measures and the European Commission is moving exactly in this direction. The recent legislative proposal[5] wants to take action to achieve a gradual reduction of fluorinated greenhouse gases that contribute to the climate change. The use of F-gas as a propellant in pressurised inhalers, which treats asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), had previously been exempted considering the benefits to health and its marginal contribution to climate change compared to other sectors. The new EU climate ambitions together with the need to update the EU rules in line with the latest changes to the Montreal Protocol led to the inclusion of the medical use of these gases in the new regulation.


Chiesi, as the largest global biopharmaceutical group to be awarded B Corp Certification, has already put in place a plan to achieve net-zero impact by 2030 on direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions from electricity and heat purchase (scopes 1 and 2) and by 2035 on all other indirect emissions (scope 3). In addition, from 2019, “the company is working on new propellant formulations[6]”- Chiesi explained, referring to the five-year, €350 million investment plan to developthe first low-carbon inhaler by 2025, which will guarantee a 90% reduction in carbon footprint.


As Alessandro Chiesi said from the stage of the World Health Summit Regional meeting in Rome: “Patients shouldn’t have to choose between their own wellbeing and that of the planet, but it’s the industry that has to find solutions that are effective and harmless for patients, but at the same time sustainable for the planet. For these reasons Chiesi is investing in all technological platforms (including both pMDI and DPI – dry powder inhalers). ”.


On the same position Susanna Palkonen, director at the European Federation of Allergy and Airways Diseases (EFA), who shared a call to the industry leaders to lead the way in fighting the climate and health crisis: “if the health sector is not leading on the need to protect the health – specifically respiratory health from climate change – who will actually do that?”.


Given the urgency and importance of the issue, the hope is that more and more pharmaceutical companies will follow Chiesi's example and invest in a regenerative business model and in the development of effective solutions with a low environmental impact. As demonstrated in the Annual and Sustainability Report 2021, a sustainable healthcare system is possible: we just need to move from words to deeds.


[1] D’Amato Gennaro, Cecchi Lorenzo , D’Amato Mariella, Annesi-Maesano Isabella, Climate change and respiratory diseases | European Respiratory Society (ersjournals.com),  2014. (Last accessed: July 4, 2022)

[2] Holmgaard Mersh Amalie, Fortuna Gerardo, Exceeding air pollution limits is challenging EU health systems in “Euractiv”, https://www.euractiv.com/section/health-consumers/news/exceeding-air-pollution-limits-is-challenging-eu-health-systems/,June 24, 2022. (Last accessed: July 4, 2022)

[3] Ibidem.

[4] Ibidem.

[5] Eur-Lex, Proposal for a REGULATION OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL on fluorinated greenhouse gases, amending Directive (EU) 2019/1937 and repealing Regulation (EU) No 517/2014, https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A52022PC0150, April 5, 2022. (Last accessed: July 4, 2022)

[6] Holmgaard Mersh Amalie, Fortuna Gerardo, op. cit.