Ruling leaves Big Pharma to pay for prescription drug disposal in Alameda County

By Steven Tavares.

The U.S. Supreme has denied a petition by the pharmaceutical industry to hear a challenge to Alameda County’s prescription drug disposal ordinance.

The denial issued Tuesday morning leaves in place a decision by the Ninth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals in favor of the take-back ordinance passed in 2012, which was the first such law in the nation adopted by a local jurisdiction.

The county ordinance was originally backed by Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley, with support from the District Attorney Nancy O’Malley. At the time of the ordinance’s passage, Miley said the lack of avenues for residents to properly discard unused prescription drugs in turn pollutes the water supply and runs the risk of young people obtaining and using narcotics for recreational use.

O’Malley added during a Board of Supervisors meeting in January 2012, “We say the child’s drug dealer is not the person in a dark alley with drugs inside their overcoat. If you open your medicine cabinets, that’s your children’s drug dealers of today.”

Even during discussion of the take-back programs three years ago, county officials suggested drug companies would follow-up on threats of litigation. Under the ordinance, the cost of prescription drug disposal programs is paid by pharmaceutical companies, along with a $1,000 a day penalty for non-compliance.

The pharmaceutical industry argued the county’s ordinance violated the U.S. Constitution by interfering with interstate commerce and singled-out out-of-state drug companies. At the U.S. District Court and Court of Appeals, both sided with the county.

In a statement, county officials said they will urge pharmaceutical companies to work collaboratively with them in creating drug disposal programs in the county.

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Originally posted at East Bay Citizen.