SF Chronicle: CA Lawmaker Wants Drug Makers to Pay for Disposal Sites

March 28, 2014

Pharmaceutical companies would have to pay for the disposal of all unused medicines sold in California under a state bill modeled after an Alameda County program.

The legislation is attempting to curb problems such as prescription drug abuse and accidental poisonings by requiring drug manufacturers to create, carry out and pay for a statewide disposal program for unused and expired medications.

The bill is in its early days - on Wednesday, SB1014 sailed through the state Senate Environmental Quality Committee on a 5-1 vote - but pharmaceutical companies and other business interests are already gearing up for a fight.

When Alameda County passed an ordinance for a drug take-back program in July 2012, then the first law of its kind in the nation, three pharmaceutical associations promptly sued. The same groups then sued King County in Washington when it adopted a similar ordinance the following year.

"Obviously, pharmaceutical companies are very powerful and they spend multimillions of dollars every year lobbying their positions," said the bill's author, state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara. "It's just my hope they will come and work with us and commit to being better stewards of the environment and public health. We're just asking that they take responsibility for the disposal of their products."