Alameda County is poised to make drug companies pay for the safe collection and disposal of residents' unused medications.
The measure would apply to prescription drugs like penicillin as well as tightly controlled substances like OxyContin.
Supporters say the ordinance would help prevent overdoses and accidental poisonings and reduce water pollution – claims the pharmaceutical industry insists are not true.
Public agencies currently pay for 25 drug disposal sites in the county. (To see locations, click here.) The ordinance would require drug manufacturers and producers to pay for the disposal of their products or face fines of up to $1,000 a day.
“The county should not be responsible for continuing to bear the financial burden alone,” said Nate Miley, president of the Alameda County Board of Supervisors and sponsor of the ordinance.
The measure also requires drug manufacturers to fund any efforts by Alameda County law enforcement agencies to collect controlled substances. Federal law requires that officers be present when such drugs, like Adderall, are returned.
The ordinance is designed to make it easier for residents to get rid of their unwanted prescription medications. But it does not stipulate where or how drugs would be collected, for instance, whether there would be collection bins at hospitals or pharmacies, or if residents would have to return their unused medications through the mail.