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Friday, March 27, 2015

San Francisco Drug Take-Back Program

A large percentage of prescription drugs abused in America are acquired, not by prescription, but rather by people getting their hands on unused pills. Many people do not finish all the pills in their bottles, and in many cases the drugs are forgotten about. If prescription narcotics are not appropriately disposed of, they often wind up finding their way to abusers. While efforts to set up National Prescription Drug Take-Back Days has had some effect on the problem, the reality is that many drugs do not find their way to disposal.

San Francisco, in an unprecedented move, is the first major city calling on “Big Pharma” to fund and administer take-back programs for unused and unexpired medications, The Wall Street Journal reports. Last week, the City Board of Supervisors unanimously approved an ordinance that would require the drug companies to cover the cost of drug disposal. San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee has until Friday to sign the bill or it automatically becomes law.

Three years ago, a similar bill was passed in Alameda County, California, to establish take-back programs covered by drug companies, according to the article. Naturally, the drug companies had something to say about the bill and fought back, they filed a lawsuit which claimed that the Alameda County program interferes with interstate commerce and discriminates against out-of-state companies.

The move in San Francisco has the drug companies concerned that it will embolden other municipalities to enact similar laws. The drug companies claim that there is no evidence the programs will alleviate diversion of medication, and that take-back programs shift costs to out-of-state consumers, the article reports.

“The drug manufacturing industry supports efforts to help consumers safely dispose of unwanted medicines. However, there is no rationale for mandating new, costly and redundant disposal options when both the FDA and the Drug Enforcement Administration support voluntary in-home disposal in conjunction with voluntary programs, national and local take-back days,” says John Murphy, associate general counsel at the Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America (PhRMA).

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