Should pharma be responsible for disposal of unwanted drugs?

May 22, 2015

The leaders of at least one county in California believe so. The Santa Clara Board of Supervisors recently approved an ordinance that will require pharmaceutical companies to design, operate, and fund a program to safely dispose of residents’ unwanted drugs.

The leaders of at least one county in California believe so. The Santa Clara Board of Supervisors recently approved an ordinance that will require pharmaceutical companies to design, operate, and fund a program to safely dispose of residents’ unwanted drugs.

Since 2008, the county has collected and disposed of approximately 35,000 pounds of unwanted and expired over-the-counter and prescription drugs.

See also: Federal court upholds groundbreaking drug-disposal law

“We are taking decisive action to hold pharmaceutical manufacturers accountable for the safe disposal of over-the-counter and prescription drugs in Santa Clara County,” said Dave Cortese, president of County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors. “The new ordinance requiring manufacturer responsibility will make it easier for residents to safely dispose of these medications, helping to reduce risks to health.”

Pharmaceutical companies will have one year to submit plans for drug disposal. That plan must include establishing more than 90 secure drug disposal drop boxes in pharmacies and law enforcement agencies throughout the county; providing homebound and disabled residents the option of returning drugs by mail; holding public drug collection events; and transporting and destroying drugs at a permitted waste disposal facility.

 

“Without easy access to proper pharmaceutical disposal, consumers too often throw their unused medicines in the trash or flush them down the toilet.  From there, those drugs end up in our waterways,” said Supervisor Ken Yeager.  “We have to hold pharmaceutical companies accountable for the products they sell.”

The new program will replace the existing county-run program, which costs residents about $47,000 a year. “County taxpayers have paid the tab for safe disposal of unwanted drugs for far too long,” said County Executive Jeffrey V. Smith. “Requiring drug companies to expand the number of secure drop-off locations in Santa Clara County appropriately places the responsibility for ensuring that unwanted drugs are not misused or abused on the companies that profited from the sale of those drugs.”