Alameda County is the first in the nation to require that pharmaceutical companies pay to collect unused and expired prescription drugs. The decision came after a protracted period of deliberation, but ultimately resulted in a unanimous 5-0 vote.

The new program will cost an estimated $330,000 per year to operate, but it will allow residents to deposit their unwanted prescriptions at 28 locations throughout the county. It is hoped that the program will reduce both prescription drug abuse and water contamination from improperly discarded meds.

Currently, a similar program is being piloted in San Francisco where the pharmaceutical companies are paying for the program to test effectiveness.

From the Associated Press:

A Northern California county voted Tuesday to make the pharmaceutical industry pay to dispose of unused prescription drugs.

The Alameda County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously 5-0 to approve an ordinance that requires drug makers to set up programs to dispose of expired and unused drugs, making it the first county to do so, industry and government officials said.

Read the full article here.