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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

Marga Lacabe October 07, 2011 at 06:27 PM
Is there anywhere in the Bay Area where you can donate medicines that are unopened, in the manufacturer's original packaging (rather than the pharmacies), for someone to be able to use, rather than dispose of? It's sad to see hundreds of dollars worth of medicine being thrown away, when people could use them.
David October 07, 2011 at 06:49 PM
This is a profoundly stupid proposal. Is there any industry where we hold the manufacturer responsible for what the end user illegally/improperly does? Do we fine the oil companies if some moron dumps his used motor oil down the sewer drain? Do we fine the grocery stores and food makers if someone throws their dinner out on the roadside instead of "properly disposing" of it in the food waste bin? Do we sue Chrysler if someone abandons his LeBaron on 580? Do I blame Sherwin Williams if I'm fined for wrongly dumping paint at the regular waste center?
Fran October 07, 2011 at 07:18 PM
"Retailers placing their own store labels on drugs created by foreign manufacturers would be exempt." LMAO
Analisa Harangozo (Editor) October 07, 2011 at 07:27 PM
Marga — Just got this response from CommPre's Linda Pratt in regards to your question: "At this time, there is no entity that I know of that takes back unopened meds that could be used by other people. This is a practice that takes place in other countries, and other people have suggested this for the reasons the reader states. Unfortunately, this would take legislation to make it happen. Obviously there would have to be oversight, and a number of different government agencies would need to be involved."
Marga Lacabe October 07, 2011 at 07:51 PM
That's really too bad.
Thomas Clarke October 07, 2011 at 07:52 PM
This is another example of another indirect tax on the people who can least afford it. The additional costs on the pharmaceutical companies will be passed on directly to the consumer and it will have the greatest impact on those that can least afford it. It is time that we all vote this type of legislation and the agents of the business interests like Nate Miley out of office. If disposal is an issue with the water supply, EBMUD and Oro Loma should provide drop off at their facilities for used pharmaceuticals. They should be directed to do so without cost to rate payers.
Tim October 07, 2011 at 09:21 PM
"I can't believe one person in Alameda County who'd be against this because it's just good public policy," Miley said. Correction.... "I can't believe one LIBERAL DEMOCRAT in Alameda County who'd be against this because it's just good public policy,"
Tim October 07, 2011 at 09:24 PM
Every Liberal Democrat also thought that the "Frank-Dodd" financial reform bill that included a cap on what banks could charge retailers for debit card swipes would be "good public policy." Now we see that the banks are going to start charging debit card holders a monthly fee simply to use their cards for retail purchases (B of A $5/per mo starting 1/2012). So we now call this the Barney Frank- Chris Dodd fee... Liberal Democrats NEVER think through their proposals and consider the unintended consequences to their actions.
Thomas Clarke October 07, 2011 at 09:41 PM
Nate Miley's constituency needs to begin to take notice of the lack of support he really gives them. This is one of many examples where Nate is in the pocket of business and special interests, in this case he is supporting Mary Hayashi's medical lobbyists.
Geoff Burton October 08, 2011 at 04:43 AM
I think we can paint both parties with that broad brush.
Tim October 08, 2011 at 04:56 AM
Really Geoff? While admittedly the Republicans have gotten away from Conservative principles, I'm pretty sure that Democrat led bills like Frank-Dodd and Obamacare have been vehemently opposed by Republicans in the House and even the Senate for the most part. Conservatives believe in free markets and limited government so while some Republicans haven't been true to that, it's a little ridiculous to say Democrats and Republicans are the same.
Geoff Burton October 08, 2011 at 05:05 AM
You don't have to be Philosophically the the same to be short sighted, and politicians from both sides of the isle have no monopoly on short sightedness .
Observer October 08, 2011 at 03:37 PM
Thank heaven for this plan. I had a bottle of morphine hanging around the house for years from taking care of a cancer patient. Finally I learned of a drop off place and was able to get rid of it. It just make sense to have pharmacies take back the drugs that they sell rather than dumping them down the toilet which is what has been happening. Seniors need to be able to dispose of drugs that they no longer use that is convenient, in a safe manner and a safe place. As of now so much of these dangers drugs end up in our water supply and in the food chain and in the bodies of our youth. Opposition to this idea is irresponsible and not well thought out. Please reconsider your position. Someone needs to take on the mega business drug companies. Kudos to Miley!
Fran October 08, 2011 at 05:15 PM
Haha, sure Mr. Observer. this comment doesn't look right. So a quick read through your previous posts confirmed my suspicions. You are obviously a government employee, perhaps Nate himself. Nice try. You can fool some of the people....
Observer October 08, 2011 at 09:28 PM
Fran, It appears from my perspective good sense makes you suspicious. It should not make any difference if someone works for the fire department or a grocery store. What does make a difference is a well thought out cogent argument to add to the discussion. I just do not think that polluting our Bay with drugs flushed down the toilet is a good thing. On top of that our teenagers are now going through their medicine cabinets at home and at grandmas and taking codeine, vicodin, morphine and other dangerous drugs to what they call “Pharm Parties”. These drugs can kill them “DEAD, DEAD and more DEAD”. It just is purely logical that Pharmacists are the best people to provide medicines and dispose of these dangerous substances. That is what they are educated to do.
Observer October 08, 2011 at 10:17 PM
Fran, You have pointed out this issue of labeling. Do you know what they are talking about? I don’t understand this label thing. Sounds like all a pharmacy would have to do to avoid having to participate in the program would be paste over the label with another one. I don’t understand. There has got to be some component here that is missing.
Tim October 08, 2011 at 10:27 PM
No one is suggesting that you "dump your unwanted drugs into the bay". The local counties can have collection dates to take them from residents. Every county already has a place where, on certain dates, you can drop off household hazardous waste and it's funded by tax dollars. We don't go after paint companies to make them pay the disposal cost. Prescription drug costs are already a growing concern for those that can least afford to pay more. What do you think the drug companies will do to their drug prices if we make them pay this cost? You liberals just don't get it. Corporations DON'T PAY TAXES.... the defray these costs by passing them on to the consumer. Why do you think gasoline prices are so damn high in CA compared to most any other state.
Observer October 08, 2011 at 11:22 PM
Tim, I agree, no one here is suggesting dumping drugs in the bay. I agree collection dates are good and I participated and was able to dispose of a drug properly. Senior Citizens and the very ill are the folks who have large amounts of drugs that need to be disposed of. Because Seniors and the very ill have a difficult time being mobile it can be near impossible to participate in proper disposal. Then the drugs tend to be flushed. We have a problem that would be irresponsible to ignore. You stated,” We don't go after paint companies to make them pay the disposal cost”. I agree. The taxpayers pay. I’m glad Miley is doing it this way rather than putting a new tax on the ballot to pay for drug disposal. The drug companies are among the most profitable businesses in the world. The Supreme Court has declared corporations are people too. If that is the case they need to be responsible for what their products do, not the taxpayers.
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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