Supreme Court: Pharma companies must finance drug take-back programs
- Much to the chagrin of the industry, the Supreme Court has upheld an Alameda, CA ordinance mandating pharma to pay for drug take-back programs, the WSJ reports.
- This three-year battle has been ongoing between the pharma industry and Alameda County, CA, which implemented an ordinance requiring pharma companies to pay for a drug take-back program in which consumers drop off unwanted medications.
- One major concern is that other states and municipalities will follow suit, which will end up costing pharma companies a great deal of money.
Although the Alameda County ordinance was upheld, it only has jurisdiction in CA and WA, so if another county wants to implement a similar ordinance, that ordinance could also be challenged in court. Nonetheless, there is a great deal of interest among various counties, especially in CA, in implementing such policies.
The goals of drug take-back programs are basically two-fold. On one hand, government officials want to reduce contaminants in drinking water, while also lowering the risk of pharmaceutical drug abuse, which is more apt to occur when there are unused medicines sitting in medicine cabinets.
The ordinance was upheld because the court believes that pharma companies can afford to underwrite such programs, especially in situations, such as in Alameda County, where there are substantial pharma revenues. Sales of prescription drugs in Alameda County were close to $1 billion in 2010 alone.
However, from the industry perspective, drug take-back programs are expensive and unnecessary, given the fact that with the proper education, consumers can learn how to safely dispose of their unused medications, while also protecting against unsafe use and abuse of prescription drugs.