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Review article2024Peer reviewedOpen access

Assessing environmental risks during the drug development process for parasitic vector-borne diseases: a critical reflection

Ilbeigi, Kayhan; Barata, Carlos; Barbosa, Joao; Bertram, Michael G.; Caljon, Guy; Costi, Maria Paola; Kroll, Alexandra; Margiotta-Casaluci, Luigi; Thore, Eli S. J.; Bundschuh, Mirco; et al.


Parasitic vector-borne diseases (VBDs) represent nearly 20% of the global burden of infectious diseases. Moreover, the spread of VBDs is enhanced by global travel, urbanization, and climate change. Treatment of VBDs faces challenges due to limitations of existing drugs, as the potential for side effects in nontarget species raises significant environmental concerns. Consequently, considering environmental risks early in drug development processes is critically important. Here, we examine the environmental risk assessment process for veterinary medicinal products in the European Union and identify major gaps in the ecotoxicity data of these drugs. By highlighting the scarcity of ecotoxicological data for commonly used antiparasitic drugs, we stress the urgent need for considering the One Health concept. We advocate for employing predictive tools and nonanimal methodologies such as New Approach Methodologies at early stages of antiparasitic drug research and development. Furthermore, adopting progressive approaches to mitigate ecological risks requires the integration of nonstandard tests that account for real-world complexities and use environmentally relevant exposure scenarios. Such a strategy is vital for a sustainable drug development process as it adheres to the principles of One Health, ultimately contributing to a healthier and more sustainable world.


drug development; environmental risk; One Health; parasitic vector-borne disease

Published in

ACS Infectious Diseases
2024, Volume: 10, number: 4, pages: 1026-1033