News & Press: PS News Alert

EPR for Pharmaceuticals Trend Grows: San Francisco Announces Drug Take-Back Legislation

Thursday, October 23, 2014   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Rachel Rose Belew

San Francisco, Calif.—The City and County of San Francisco, California is now the third municipality in the U.S. to introduce extended producer responsibility (EPR) legislation for pharmaceuticals, following Alameda County, California (2012) and King County, Washington (2013). The announcement—which indicates a burgeoning trend in policy solutions for the management of unused medicine—comes just weeks after a panel of federal judges from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the pharmaceutical industry’s appeal of a district judge’s ruling in 2013 that upheld Alameda County’s EPR ordinance. The pharmaceutical industry originally sued Alameda County in December 2012 after county leaders voted to enact a drug take-back law requiring manufacturers to fund and manage the safe, secure collection and disposal of unused post-consumer medicine.

Although San Francisco was the first local government in the nation to introduce a drug take-back ordinance in 2010, municipal leaders put consideration of the legislation on hold when PhRMA and Genentech agreed to provide grant funds to partially fund a voluntary, temporary, county-wide pilot program.  The new EPR legislation—dubbed the San Francisco Safe Drug Disposal Stewardship Ordinance—is intended to create a permanent solution for both prescription and over-the-counter medication.

The ordinance requires any pharmaceuticals manufacturer that sells and distributes drugs in the City and County of San Francisco to:

  • Participate in a product stewardship program that collects, handles and disposes of unwanted drugs.
  • Pay all administrative and operational costs and fees associated with their stewardship plan.
  • Adequately promote their stewardship plan and outreach to stakeholders, including residents, pharmacists and retailers.
  • Dispose of all drugs collected through the stewardship program at a permitted hazardous waste disposal facility as defined by the EPA, unless an alternate facility is approved.

San Francisco’s legislative action is the direct result of EPR-favorable momentum generated in the wake of last month’s appeal’s court ruling upholding Alameda County’s drug take-back ordinance. Such momentum is also behind King County, Washington’s recent EPR program re-launch; King County had passed the nation’s second EPR ordinance for pharmaceuticals in 2013, but agreed to put some implementation deadlines on hold pending a decision in the PhRMA et al. appeal of the Alameda County ordinance.  It is expected that these developments will spur the introduction of additional legislation around the country.

PSI has been advocating for EPR for pharmaceuticals at the state and local level since 2007. We not only applaud San Francisco’s action, but we also encourage other county, city, and state agencies to follow suit.