A bill was passed by a California Senate committee to start the first statewide medicine take-back program in the United States. The measure would require drug manufacturers to pay for the collection and discarding of unwanted over-the-counter and prescription drugs.
Proposed by state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, S.B. 2014 was approved by the state Senate Environmental Quality Committee in a 5-1 vote. The state Senate Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee will be hearing the bill on April 21.
If the measure is passed, a statewide collection and disposal of unused drugs sold in California would have to be created, financed and managed by drug companies. The aim is to shift the costs of drug disposal from local governments and taxpayers to companies in order to better prevent drug abuse, accidental poisonings and traces of drugs found in drinking water.
In July 2012, a similar drug ordinance, which S.B. 1014 was modeled after, was passed by Alameda County; however, the bill has been challenged by pharmaceutical associations at the Ninth Circuit.
The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the Generic Pharmaceutical Association, the California Chamber of Commerce, and the California Manufacturers and Technology Association are currently in opposition of the bill. On the other hand, the bill is supported by groups such as the California Product Stewardship Council, Clean Water Action, the California Alliance for Retired Americans, San Francisco, and Alameda County.
“We are hoping that the industry will join us in recognizing that we have a problem, and helping to share the responsibility for what happens to these unused medications,” Jackson said in a statement. “These unused drugs create enormous public health and environmental challenges. We need a better solution than putting them in the garbage or flushing them, where they can get into our water, or leaving them in our medicine cabinets, where they can be taken accidentally or be misused and abused.”