Jackson Advances Statewide Industry-Funded Drug & Sharps Take-Back Program

June 27, 2018

SACRAMENTO – To address a growing problem of prescription drug abuse, the devastating opioid epidemic, accidental poisonings, and traces of pharmaceuticals found in drinking water, Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), along with Assemblymembers Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) and Adam Gray (D-Merced), advanced legislation last night to create a statewide drug and medical sharps take-back program funded by the pharmaceutical industry. SB 212 passed out of the Assembly Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee on a 5 to 1 vote.

“Nearly one-third of prescription medicine is left unused. These unused drugs create enormous public health and environmental impacts. They can get into the wrong hands, fueling drug abuse and addiction, lead to accidental poisoning by seniors and children, or threaten our water supply when flushed down the toilet,” said Senator Jackson, who has long advocated for an industry-funded drug take-back program. “Consumers need a safe, convenient, cost-effective, and environmentally sound method for disposing their unused prescription drugs and medical sharps. SB 212 will ensure that the producers of these products share the responsibility for their safe disposal.”

Senate Bill 212 requires manufacturers of pharmaceutical medications and medical sharps to establish, implement and fund take-back programs for safe and secure collection and disposal of their products. This is the first statewide proposal in the nation to include both prescription medications and medical sharps.

”Given the public hazard posed by unused medication and sharps, and where they could end up, it’s time to implement a statewide take-back program. While we still have significant work to do, SB 212’s passage in a key committee is a huge step forward,” said Ting, who is a principal co-author.

While there are some safe drug disposal sites in California, there are only 489 locations serving 39 million residents. The patchwork of programs is clearly not enough to meet public demand. In addition, these sites are financed by local governments, and ultimately California taxpayers.

In 2012, Alameda County became the first local government agency in the country to pass an ordinance requiring drug manufacturers to develop, implement and pay for a drug take-back program. The program was challenged but prevailed in the courts when the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld it in 2014.

The bill is supported by numerous local governments and municipal agencies, consumer safety advocates, and environmental organizations.

Jackson represents the 19th Senate District, which includes all of Santa Barbara County and western Ventura County.