California County to Pharmaceutical Manufacturers: Pay Up

| 25 July 2012

Representatives of Alameda County in California have voted to require pharmaceutical companies to assume the cost of disposing of unused medicinal products, reports The Associated Press.

On Tuesday, 25 July the Alameda County Board of Supervisors voted to unanimously pass an ordinance aimed at requiring the industry to "dispose of expired and unused prescription drugs." The AP reports the legislation is the first of its kind in the US, and was passed in response to the Board's perception that improperly-disposed-of drug products were leading to accidental overdoses, a contaminated water supply and other environmental problems.

Current disposal methods supported by the County involve dozens of drop-off locations for drug products, but County officials cited the high cost of the program-more than $300,000 per year-in requiring the pharmaceutical industry to pay for the disposal program. "We need to say you need to take corporate responsibility and deal with your products, and it shouldn't be something the taxpayers have to pay," County Supervisor Nate Miley said.

Industry representatives had meanwhile fought back against the measure, saying its principles are not supported by its empirical data and that the costs of disposing of the products were unfairly focused solely on the industry.

"It would be sort of like Boston asking rice farmers in central California valley to pay the cost of garbage disposal because the trash has rice in it," Marjorie Powell, a representative of Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, told The AP. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) already has approved methods of disposing of drugs, which involve placing the medicines in a sealed container along with other substances.

The new program could potentially be precedence setting, with other cash-strapped localities potentially looking to reduce costs to taxpayers while-hypothetically-reducing rates of drug abuse and environmental damage.

Read more:

USA Today (AP) - California county to vote on drug disposal bill

San Fransisco Chronicle - Drug-disposal law OKd in Alameda County

Pharmalot - Flushing Sound: Pharma Must Pay To Toss Old Pills


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