Collecting and incinerating old or unwanted prescription medications is a public health benefit on several fronts. The makers of the meds are fighting one northern California County’s ordinance that requires them to help cover those disposal costs—but they’re losing.
For Sonoma County, the drive to collect and dispose of excess medications (see list of locations here) has been propelled by water quality concerns, explains Susan Keach, an Environmental Compliance Inspector for the Sonoma County Water Agency.
In Alameda County, worries about public health—including seniors taking expired medications by mistake as well as teens popping pills they’ve found in medicine cabinets—were the main driver for their ordinance. But when the measure came under a legal challenge from pharmaceutical trade groups, says County Counsel Donna Zigler, the issue was interstate commerce.