July 19 - Pennsylvania Bill Takes Aim at Harmful Pharmaceutical Disposal

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Take a look in your medicine cabinet. Like most Americans, you probably have at least half a dozen medications that are either expired or you're done taking.

These unused pharmaceuticals often get thrown in the trash or flushed down the toilet where they eventually seep into our waterways.

How does pharmaceutical waste harm the environment?

In an attempt to promote responsible disposal, the Pennsylvania House introduced a bill on June 12th that would make drug manufacturers responsible for providing unused medication collection sites.

If the bill passes, any pharmaceutical company who wants to sell within Pennsylvania borders has to participate in a pharmaceutical take-back program.

For manufacturers, that means establishing a minimum of one collection site in each county, two in counties of over 100,000 people, three in counties of over 300,000, and four in counties with a population of over a million. The bill is currently in the Committee of Health.

Waste & Recycling News: Pennsylvania bill would force drug manufacturers to pay for disposal

To address the same waste issue, California’s Assembly Bill 1442 would make pharmaceutical waste disposal easier and less costly for medical waste generators.

For years health facilities in the Golden State have followed strict guidelines for medical waste disposal, but with high costs and restrictions for compliance.

AB 1442, authored by Assembly Member Wieckowski, reduces disposal costs by allowing waste generators who meet certain criteria to transport medical waste themselves or to hire "common carriers". This bill will vastly increase the convenience of safe and cost-effective medical waste disposal.

In a study by the US Geological Survey, 80% of waterways sampled had some level of pharmaceutical remains. In this day and age, when there is a pill for every ailment, it seems like there’s nothing modern medicine can’t do. But with that privilege comes a pressing need for disposal infrastructure, such as those proposed in California and Pennsylvania.

AB 1442 will be heard in Senate Appropriations on 8/6. Read the current form of it HERE


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