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Disposal Dispute

Who should pay for the disposal of unused medicines? The county of Alameda in California has decided to put the financial responsibility for unused medication disposal on drug makers. Based on schemes already applied in Europe and Canada, all manufacturers with products available in the county must fund or establish a local program to collect and dispose of unused prescription medicines, regardless of where the manufacturer is located. Refusing to comply results in a fine of $1000 per day.


Alameda’s Safe Drug Disposal Ordinance was approved by the county’s lawmakers in 2012, but US industry bodies have been trying to overturn it. At the end of December 2014, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the Generic Pharmaceutical Association (GPhA) and the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) turned to the US Supreme Court with a petition to overturn the law. The organizations agree that disposal programs offer health and safety benefits, but they disagree with the premise that drug companies should be forced to pay for it.

“The Ordinance shifts the burden of funding and administering a program solely benefitting local interests onto interstate producers (and, by extension, out-of-state consumers), ensuring that the brunt of the cost falls on outsiders instead of local residents,” argues the petition.

This isn’t the first time PhRMA, GPhA and BIO have tried to take action, but a previous lawsuit with the US 9th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals failed to reverse the law.

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About the Author
Stephanie Vine

Making great scientific magazines isn’t just about delivering knowledge and high quality content; it’s also about packaging these in the right words to ensure that someone is truly inspired by a topic. My passion is ensuring that our authors’ expertise is presented as a seamless and enjoyable reading experience, whether in print, in digital or on social media. I’ve spent fourteen years writing and editing features for scientific and manufacturing publications, and in making this content engaging and accessible without sacrificing its scientific integrity. There is nothing better than a magazine with great content that feels great to read.

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