New Bill Tells Drug Companies to Pay for Medical Waste Disposal

The city wants to support a state bill that would require pharmaceutical companies to subsidize a drug take-back program to get rid of unused medication.

Right now, unwanted pharmaceuticals pile up in medicine cabinets or get chucked in the waterways because people don’t know how else to properly get rid of them. SB 1014, introduced by Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), would require medicine-makers to establish what's the bill calls a product stewardship program.

City leaders at Wednesday's Rules and Open Government Committee meeting will consider endorsing Jackson's legislative proposal.

"Serious social and environmental problems persist as pharmaceuticals are banned from solid waste disposal sites without corresponding safe and convenient disposal options made available to consumers," reads a city memo signed off by Environmental Services Director Kerrie Romanow. "One example of a social problem resulting from the lack of proper disposal options is the stockpiling of unused medications in the home, which can contribute to accidental poisoning among children, drug abuse and other accidental drug-related deaths."

Unused meds flushed down toilets or dumped down drains also leach into the groundwater supply and pollute our drinking water, she adds.

"Pharmaceuticals are identified as a pollutant of emerging concern by state water quality regulators," Romanow says.

Existing law under the Medical Waste Management Act requires consumers to find registered hazardous materials handlers to deal with unused product.

If Jackson’s bill passes, California would be the first state in the country to establish a statewide drug take-back program. Companies would face penalties if they don’t comply.

The bill would also prevent drug companies from passing fees for the program down to consumers.

More from the San Jose Rules and Open Government Committee agenda for March 12, 2014:

WHAT: Rules and Open Government Committee meets
WHEN: 2pm Wednesday
WHERE: City Hall, 200 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose
INFO: City Clerk, 408.535.1260

Jennifer Wadsworth is the news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Email tips to [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.

One Comment

  1. With reference to Mayor Reed’s “give-a-way” program to the San Jose Mercury News.

    When Mayor Reed “poor-mouths..We don’t have any money to pay our Police,Firefighters and the rest of city employees what they should be making…or we need an extension for 25 years of the parcel tax to keep the libraries open.”

    Read his memo and do simple math. The San Jose Mercury News is recieving “160 free parking spaces in the 3rd Street Parking garage for four years.” This translates to $16,000 a month, $192,000 a year, for four years of revenue given away by Mayor Reed as part of the “Downtown Revitalization Strategy.”

    As far as I am concerned, the only “Downtown Revitalization Strategy” I see occuring is that St. James Park is “hooker-heaven” and Downtown vagrants are treated as if they were on the endangered species list.

    I was at “Rules” yesterday and openly ridiculed giving the lousey newspaper a centavo of taxpayer’s money.

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