A timely article in Express Pharma entitled, “Enhancing REACHability,” provides a thorough accounting of the events and themes of the recently held third Helsinki Chemicals Forum which discussed current issues and future challenges of the chemical industry, chemical safety, and chemistry research. It is mostly about the ongoing evolution of REACH (registration, evaluation, authorization and restriction of chemicals) regulations for European Union member countries. For example, how will the next wave of small and medium-sized chemical industry companies in Europe respond to rules just now beginning to affect their operations? How are downstream user obligations changing? Is the initiative doing enough in the area of evaluation and public dissemination of information? It is a good report if you’re seeking insight into how EU countries are working to strengthen and promote chemical industry management rules, including labeling. But the piece also touches upon a bigger issue…
The bigger issue that seems to come through loud and clear from this recent Helsinki event is that everyone involved in REACH realizes that the ultimate goal is a global, standards-based system adhering to data forms with which everyone can agree and operate. To this point, one speaker used a phrase I had not seen before: mutual acceptance of data or MAD. The speaker is identified as belonging to OECD and while the article doesn’t specifically spell out what that stands for, I believe it represents the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. And, according to one online source I found, the OECD provides a forum for discussing issues and reaching agreements, some of which are legally binding.
Here’s what he said, as reported by Pharma Express: Bob Diderich, Principal Administrator, OECD mentioned at the beginning of the session on the global use of regulatory information that mutual acceptance of data (MAD) among OECD countries and other MAD-adhering countries is a foundation for harmonisation of information, which was further emphasised by Christel Musset, Director of Registration. For example, ECHA has published 4,800 new and existing substances registered and 850,000 robust study summaries. The discussion emphasized on the need for chemicals in developing countries and for understandable information on hazards and risks to guarantee safe use of chemicals.
I agree with this assessment, don’t you? And it gets me to thinking about this challenge as it relates to varying standards bodies. Do independent, non-profit and voluntary standards bodies like GS1, for example, have a better shot at global acceptance over regional governmental initiatives such as REACH and/or anything the our Environmental Protection Agency may wish to promote beyond America’s borders? I guess we’ll have to wait and see just how much MADness, in a good way, the EU can generate worldwide.
You can see the full article on this topic from Express Pharma at this link.