Governor Signs Jackson Bill to Create First Statewide Industry-Funded Drug & Needles Take-Back Program

October 01, 2018

SACRAMENTO – Today Governor Jerry Brown signed groundbreaking legislation by Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), along with Assemblymembers Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) and Adam Gray (D-Merced), to create the first statewide drug and medical needles take-back program funded by the pharmaceutical industry.

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

“After years of hard work and negotiation, California will become the first state in the nation with an industry-funded pharmaceutical drug and medical needles take-back program. This is a tremendous accomplishment that will help fight prescription drug abuse, keep pharmaceuticals out of our water supply, and place the burden of disposal on the industry, not consumers or taxpayers. I applaud Governor Brown for signing this groundbreaking legislation,” said Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), SB 212 author.

“The Governor’s signature on SB 212 finally puts California on the path to having safe and convenient ways to dispose of unused medication and sharps. It took years of hard work to get to this point, but a statewide solution is essential to address the public health and environmental issues brought on by having a limited patchwork of take-back programs,” said Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), who is principal co-author of the legislation.

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 and the U.S. Supreme Court determined they would not hear the case, which allowed the Ninth Circuit Court ruling to stand. This opened the doors to any local government to require producers to pay for the disposal of their product if it has a public health and safety impact.

Senate Bill 212 is sponsored by the California Product Stewardship Council and has wide support by local governments and municipal agencies, industry associations, consumer safety advocates, and environmental organizations.

“The importance of SB 212 for California and the country should not be underestimated.  Californians believe the producers of products should share in the responsibility to manage the negative impacts on society such as medications fueling addiction and needles in the trash sticking our waste workers, and this bill does that by providing a service Californians desperately want.  We hope other states will follow our lead,” said Heidi Sanborn, Senior Advisor for the California Product Stewardship Council.

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