Last week, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Seeborg ruled in favor of the Alameda County and its aggressive new law to ensure safe and proper disposal of expired medication, striking a blow to drug manufacturers across the nation.
Alameda County’s drug ordinance extends producer responsibility and requires manufacturers to pay and manage drug collection centers and services across the county. It was passed in an effort to ensure safe disposal of used medications while lowering the cost for the county to provide such services. Shifting the burden to manufacturers will save the county over $300,000 annually.
The ordinance is rumored to be the first of its kind in the nation.
The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufactures Association of America (PHRMA) teamed up with the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) and the Generic Pharmaceutical Association (GPhA) and filed suit in December of 2012, just five months after the Alameda County Board of Supervisors unanimously passed the ordinance. They argued that the law interfered with interstate commerce and was therefore in violation of Commerce Clause of the Constitution.
The courts disagreed. In his decision, Seeborg stated that the county has “adequately shown that the ordinance serves a legitimate public health and safety interest, and that the relatively modest compliance costs producers will incur should they choose to sell their products in the county do not unduly burden interstate commerce.”
It is expected that PHRMA will appeal the ruling but they have yet to state their intention to do so.
A copy of the Alameda County Safe Drug Disposal Ordinance can be found of the county’s website here.
The full 11-page decision issued by Judge Seeborg can be found here.