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Proposed County Ordinance to Hold Pharmaceutical Companies Responsible for Drug Disposal

County officials will discuss a draft of the ordinance at the Safe Medication Disposal Conference on Oct. 12 at the Castro Valley Library.

Alameda County officials are crafting an ordinance that would hold drug manufacturers financially responsible for the disposal of consumers' expired and unwanted medications.

Drug producers could potentially face penalties of up to $1,000 per day if found in violation of the ordinance. Retailers placing their own store labels on drugs created by foreign manufacturers would be exempt.

The ordinance draft will be discussed at the county's Safe Medication Disposal Conference, set for Oct. 12 at the . Officials also hope to encourage all cities in the county to install permanent drug take-back sites.

Of the 130 drug take-back sites in the Bay Area, the county's Eden Area only has five. Sgt. Bret Scheuller of the Alameda County Sheriff's Office said there is a definite need for more — he said he once collected more than 300 pounds of medication from a drug take-back event.

"It would be revolutionary and rather than having our local public dollars go to collecting these medications, the manufacturers would be held responsible for disposing them themselves," said Linda Pratt, program director for .

CommPre, along with several governmental agencies, helped sponsor the county's Medication Disposal Initiative.

Pratt spoke about the initiative during last week's Unincorporated Services meeting. [See her presentation as a PDF, attached above]

Supervisor Nate Miley mentioned during the meeting that the City of San Francisco had attempted to pass a similar ordinance but was offered money by drug companies to let them pilot their own program.

"We're not just going to sit back and let the pharmaceutical industry pay us $100,000 for an ineffective program," Miley said. "I'm not about being bought out."

If the ordinance does move forward, it will either go before the Board of Supervisors or be part of a county-wide ballot.

"I can't believe one person in Alameda County who'd be against this because it's just good public policy," Miley said.

Current Alameda County Drug Disposal Sites:

United Pharmacy — 2929 Telegraph Ave., Berkeley, 510-843-3201

Transcendentist —3030 Ashby Ave., Berkeley, 510-841-3040

Haller's Pharmacy and Medical Supply — 37323 Fremont Blvd., Fremont, 510-488-7621

Fremont Hazmat Drop-Off Site — 41149 Boycee Rd., 1-877-STOPWASTE

Washington Hospital Community Health Resource Library — 2500 Mowry Ave., Fremont, 510-477-7621

Washington Hospital Main Lobby — 2000 Mowry Ave., Fremont, 510-477-7621

Alameda County HHW Drop-off Site — 2091 W. Winton Ave., Hayward, 800-606-6606

Ted's Drugs — 27453 Hesperian Blvd., Hayward, 510-782-6494

(bin located at emergency entrance) — 20103 Lake Chabot Rd, Castro Valley, 510-537-1234

Livermore Hazmat Drop-Off Site — 5584 La Ribera St., 1-877-STOPWASTE

Peralta Outpatient Pharmacy — 3300 Webster St., Oakland, 510-869-8835

Oakland Hazmat Drop-Off Site — 2100 E. 7th St., 1-800-606-6606 (Thur. through Sat. 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.)

Medicine Drop-Off at the California State Building — 1515 Clay St., Oakland, 510-287-1651 (Mon. through Fri. 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.)

— 3081 Teagarden St., San Leandro, 510-347-4620 (Mon. through Thurs. 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Fri. 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.)

— 15001 Foothill Blvd., San Leandro, 510-667-7721 (Mon. through Fri 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.)

— 13847 E. 14th St., San Leandro, 510-357-1881

— 33077 Alvarado Niles Road, 510-477-7621

— 35500 Dumbarton Ct., 510-477-7621

ordinary joe October 09, 2011 at 12:36 AM
I agree with Tim. No one is suggesting that you "dump your unwanted drugs into the bay". I don't see how pharmaceutical companies are responsible for people who don't know or care what happens to the expired or unwanted drugs. On the one hand, we complain every day that the drugs are expensive and then think such stupid ideas! There are licensed disposal facilities through out the country. It is not rocket science! Every City or County can have its own program to collect these drugs and get them disposed off. It is not complicated at all. Only the danger here is that this needs to be done in a cost-efficient way. I don't want my City to hire 10 people (One Director, one Associate Director, two managers, 3 administrative assistants, 2 coordinators and one guy to do the actaul work)!!
Observer October 09, 2011 at 05:21 AM
I agree that drugs should be disposed of safely. It should be done simply and economically. I think it is logical to have pharmacists deal with disposal of pharmaceuticals as they are already trained to deal with drugs and understand them. When a person goes to pick up their new prescription they could simply drop their out of date drugs in a drop box. Perhaps the contents of the drop box can be periodically emptied and taken for proper disposal to the county hazardous waste disposal facility. What do you think?
Marga Lacabe October 09, 2011 at 05:35 AM
Observer, that makes *a lot* of sense. And here is a question for our intrepid reporter, how do pharmacies now get rid of unused inventory? I'm sure that no matter how well they plan, sometimes they have drugs in stock that expire before they've sold them. What do they do with them now?
Leah Hall October 09, 2011 at 05:38 AM
An interesting question. I hope we get a good answer.
Tim October 09, 2011 at 05:55 AM
The individual pharmacy would be responsible for the proper disposal of expired medications whether prescription or OTC. As a commercial business there are already regulations in place to ensure proper disposal. This issue is specific to the individual residence with these unwanted medications. A similar issue would be waste oil disposal. As a residence generating the waste you can take it to a collection station for proper disposal. Dealerships have to be permitted by the CA DTSC to generate the waste and have it picked up by a licensed hazardous waste transporter to a TSDF facility. To solve the problem is the average Joe doing his own oil changes, many dealerships and service stations are designated drop off facilities. They get PAID by the state (with out tax dollars) to accept waste oil from the individual. The same can be done with unwanted drugs. The County already accepts unwanted prescription medications but it would be more convenient for the pharmacy to take them back. The issue is should we stick the cost on the drug companies who would pass the cost on to the consumer? Again, these are generally elderly people that cannot afford the additional cost... OR, should we have collection boxes at the pharmacy but run by the County.... I think the County should do it but as "ordinary joe" says above, do it responsibly and don't hire 15 supervisors for every one worker.

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