Pharma fights take-back responsibility, but pharmacy group wants more

The U.S. pharmaceutical industry is fighting tooth and nail having to take any responsibility for drug-disposal programs, but pharmacists are saying "bring it on."

The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) has asked the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to erase provisions that ban them from accepting drugs like OxyContin or Vicodin as part of the national "Dispose My Meds" program. According to a post on the political news website The Hill, the DEA is crafting rules for the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010. Getting leftover prescription painkillers out of home medicine cabinets is often cited as one reason local governments create their own take-back programs.

"Controlled substances represent a missing link in efforts to adopt a unified approach to the safe disposal of unwanted, unused or expired medications," The Hill says B. Douglas Hoey, ​CEO of the trade group, commented to the DEA. About 1,600 pharmacists voluntarily participate in the program.

While the pharmacy group wants to do more, trade groups representing every flavor of U.S. drugmaker have jointly filed suit in Alameda, CA, to try to keep from having to pay for a take-back program there. The suit was filed in December by PhRMA, BIO and the Generic Pharmaceutical Association. It claims the county is asking the drug industry to expand beyond its core business into "a combination of municipal waste disposal and local law enforcement." 

The county program would also prohibit drugmakers from levying a local user fee to cover the cost of the program, which is estimated at $330,000 annually. Alameda County officials view that as nothing for pharma, but if upheld, the industry knows it would face demands that it pay for other programs around the country. 

The reasons Alameda County officials give for having a program mirror those discussed elsewhere are, namely, the potential environmental impact of pharmaceuticals being dumped in toilets and ending up in the water supply, and concern over juveniles getting their hands on prescription drugs.

- read the story in The Hill

Related Articles:
Pharma files lawsuit against California drug disposal law 
California county orders drugmakers to pay for drug disposal 
Industry faces having to fund drug-disposal program