Tuesday, December 11, 2012

It all boils down to money....

Earlier this year, Alameda County (occupying the East Bay region of the San Francisco Bay area) passed the nation's first-ever drug-take-back legislation which would make manufacturers responsible for the cost of collecting and disposing of left-over pharmaceuticals. The Alameda County legislation prohibits manfacturers from passing their disposal costs on to consumers.

MercuryNews reported that on Friday (December 7), the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the Biotechnology Industry Organization and the Generic Pharmaceutical Association filed a lawsuit against Alameda County in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The county has been anticpating this course of action, and just waiting for it to come. In 2011, the three allies staunchly blocked attempts in multiple states to launch drug take back programs. The pharmaceutical industry maintains that the most appropriate means of disposal is down the toilet, in the trash, or in drop boxes (of which there are very few across the entire U.S.).

The lawsuit boils down to money. The lawsuit states that,"The [Alameda County] ordinance favors local interests by deliberately shifting costs away from local consumers and taxpayers and onto drug manufacturers and pharmaceutical consumers nationwide." The industry argues that consumers and local government entities (and law enforcement agencies) should shoulder the burden for disposal of medications.

In an interview with the New York Times, Nathan A. Miley, the president of the Alameda County Board of Supervisors and the champion of the legislation, said, “It’s just unfortunate that PhRMA would fight this because it would be pennies for them.”

Proponents of product stewardship for pharmaceuticals have long battled the lobbying power that the deep pockets of the pharmaceutical industry brings to the table. In 2009, revenues for the top 10 pharmaceutical companies topped $330 billion, according to a July 2010 report by Internal Trade Association Office of Health & Consumer Goods.

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