In a ground-breaking legislative move, Alameda County unanimously voted in favor of a pharmaceutical waste ordinance that will hold the pharmaceutical industry accountable for collection and disposal of unwanted and expired drugs. During the first reading of the Safe Drug Disposal Ordinance county supervisors voted 5-0 in favor of the proposed law and passage is expected for its final reading on July 24.
Nate Miley, the county supervisor who introduced the bill, argues that accumulated pharmaceuticals pose a risk for accidental poisoning and waterway contamination. From 2002 through 2004 unintended poisoning was the second-leading injury resulting in death for Alameda County. Miley points out:
Industry keeps saying they’re going to oppose it and fight it and throwing up obstacles as opposed to just embracing it. My constituents, their consumers, are asking for this.
If the ordinance is passed, it will be the first law of its kind in the United States. Currently Alameda County has 28 collection locations for unwanted drugs but disposal is paid for by taxpayers of the county at an estimated tune of $330,000 a year.