Producer responsibility resolution adopted for unwanted
The National Association of Counties (NACo), the country’s
largest local government organization, unanimously adopted
a policy supporting producer responsibility for unwanted
The expense of taking back unused prescription and over-the-counter
drugs would be handled by the pharmaceutical industry,
without relying on state or local government funding.
“There are examples of successful take back programs
in the United States and Canada that benefit the health
both of the environment and the population,” said Commissioner
Victoria Reinhardt of Ramsey County, Minnesota, who introduced
the proposal along with three council members from Washington
State. “NACo’s adopting a product stewardship policy
for the pharmaceutical industry is a great step forward.”
The council members from Washington were Dave Somers
from Snohomish County and Dow Constantine and Julia Patterson
from King County.
According to the resolution, the environmental and social
problems created by the storing and disposing of unwanted
medicines are numerous and complex. Leftover medicine
may play a part in drug abuse and accidental poisonings.
Disposing of these medicines by flushing or trash disposal
contributes to ground and surface water contamination.
Athens, Georgia-based Product Policy Institute (PPI)
helped develop Tuesday’s resolution on unwanted medicines.
The non-profit institute works with local governments
to advance comprehensive state policies focused on producer
responsibility. Reinhardt is a PPI board member.
Last week, NACo attendees heard a presentation from PPI
executive director Dr. Bill Sheehan on a successful program
in British Columbia that makes brand-owners of pharmaceutical
products sold there responsible for the safe management
of unused medicines. Over 93 percent of licensed pharmacies
in this province of 4.4 million people collect unused
medications, with no fees to consumers, and turn them
over to producers.
“The cost of this program in 2008 was a mere $315,000,
which was shared by pharmaceutical companies,” said Sheehan.
“Like Europe and Canada, the United States can develop
programs to cover the costs of collecting, transporting
and disposing of these medicines. It’s imperative we
Commissioner Reinhardt has written and introduced four
previous NACo resolutions on product stewardship that
were readopted this year, including ones advocating producer
responsibility for paint, electronics, and mercury-containing