Group Wants Pharma Firms to Take Back Unused Meds

by | Jul 30, 2009

pharmacy2In a move reminiscent of the push for electronics manufacturers to take responsibility for e-waste recycling, the National Association of Counties (NACo), the nation’s largest local government organization, unanimously adopted a policy supporting producer responsibility for unwanted medicines. The resolution was created to address the public safety impact of unused medicines in homes, and the environmental impact of improper disposal of unwanted medicines that can lead to ground and surface water contamination.

Product Policy Institute (PPI) helped develop the resolution on unwanted medicines. The non-profit institute works with local governments to advance state policies focused on producer responsibility.

Under the resolution, the pharmaceutical industry would pay for taking back unused prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs, without state or local government funding. This includes costs for collection, transportation, and hazardous waste disposal. Click here for the resolution.

There are examples of successful take-back programs in the U.S and Canada that benefit the environment and the population, said Commissioner Victoria Reinhardt of Ramsey County, Minnesota, who introduced the proposal along with three council members from Washington State.

As an example cited by PPI, a program in British Columbia, with more than 93 percent of licensed pharmacies collecting unused medication in the province of 4.4 million people, returns the unused medications to producers at no fee to consumers. The cost of the program was $315,000 in 2008, which was shared by the pharmaceutical companies.

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