Drug companies fight prescription drug disposal requirement

Randi Martin, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – In the last couple of years, seven states have introduced bills to require drug companies to pay for programs that provide a safe way to dispose of prescription drugs, but none of those bills has passed.

Now, the drug companies are fighting a local law in California that would make them pay for such a program.

Family medicine cabinets may be full of old prescriptions, but leaving those pills in the cabinet can pose a health risk to families, and flushing them can hurt the environment.

Alameda County, Calif. passed a law in July, the first of its kind, that would require the drug companies to fund a program for the safe disposal of prescription drugs.

The pharmaceutical companies say the program will cost millions, The New York Times reports.

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, which represents brand- name drug companies, the Generic Pharmaceutical Association and the Biotechnology Industry Organization filed suit Friday to get the law knocked down, http://www.insidebayarea.com/oaklandtribune/localnews/ci_22147889/big-pharma-sues- alameda-county-over-drug-take?source=rss”>InsideBayArea.comreports.

Currently there are programs to help dispose of those unused and expired prescriptions that clutter medicine cabinets. National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, sponsored by the Drug Enforcement Agency, has been successful in getting people to drop off their drugs at various locations across the country. The September event took in 1,018 tons of prescription drugs. The next event is scheduled for April 2013.

DisposeMyMeds.org gives locations of nearby pharmacies that will take back drugs and safely dispose of them.

Many drugs cannot safely be flushed down the toilet without ending up in waterways. A United States Geological Survey study have found various drugs, including antidepressants, antibiotics, heart medicines and hormones, in waterways they sampled, likely from people flushing drugs down the toilet.

The DEA says to dispose of your expired prescriptions just place into a plastic bag and mix with kitty litter or coffee grinds, seal and toss in the trash.

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