[Pharmwaste] PRESS RELEASE - Governor Signs Massachusetts Drug Abuse Prevention Bill, First State to Mandate Drug Take-Back Program

Suzy Whalen suzy at productstewardship.us
Mon Mar 14 15:25:31 EDT 2016

The following message comes from Scott Cassel, chief executive officer and founder of the Product Stewardship Institute.

Dear Colleagues:

Today, Massachusetts became the first state in the country to require drug companies to pay for and manage the safe disposal of unwanted medicine (see press release<https://productstewardship.site-ym.com/news/279623/Governor-Signs-Massachusetts-Drug-Abuse-Prevention-Bill-First-State-to-Mandate-Drug-Take-Back.htm> below). The requirement is part of a comprehensive drug abuse prevention bill that was signed this morning by Governor Charlie Baker. PSI was fortunate to have the opportunity to work with smart and dedicated legislators and their staffs to ensure that the drug take-back provision prevailed in the final bill.

With that said, there are several components to the legislation that will require articulation in the rules and regulations developed by the Department of Public Health (DPH) to ensure that the law is most effective at protecting public health and the environment. First, the law allows pharmaceutical companies to propose an “alternative plan” that could include a payment to the state in lieu of the industry managing their own safe disposal program. Second, the law allows companies to meet only two of four criteria for a program, including mail back, one-day events, in-home disposal, and kiosks. And finally, there is a sunset clause after five years.

Over the coming months, we will work to ensure that the MA DPH rules and regulations do not allow industry to offload their responsibility onto the state through inadequate payments or by requiring additional state workers to manage a program that should be implemented by the industry itself. We will also work to counter the industry’s promotion of its four-step in-home disposal process<http://myoldmeds.com/safe-storage-disposal/in-home-disposal/> of putting drugs in a plastic bag and mixing with water and then kitty litter, sawdust, or coffee grinds before disposing in the garbage. State and local government agencies around the country have rejected this approach for the past 15 years, as has the Office of National Drug Control Policy and the Drug Enforcement Administration, which spent considerable resources to change the federal Controlled Substances Act and subsequent regulations to allow collections at pharmacies and other convenient locations. They would not have spent the time or money to make sure that drugs could be conveniently collected if they thought it was safe or even feasible to mix drugs with kitty litter and put them in the garbage. Finally, no program should be sunset without a thorough evaluation.

We have a lot of work still ahead. However, at this point, I want to pause and acknowledge Vivian Futran Fuhrman and Waneta Trabert of the PSI staff for their unwavering commitment to the issue of safe pharmaceuticals disposal and to ensuring the health and safety of Massachusetts citizens. They were both tireless in the technical assistance they provided to legislative staff, and have been a key reason for this bill’s success. In addition, Suzy Whalen’s skill at communicating the nuances of the information has significantly contributed to PSI’s ability to spread the message.

This effort has also been a team effort by the wider product stewardship community, which started a decade ago when PSI identified waste pharmaceuticals as a public health and safety issue. After stakeholder meetings we held in California and Washington D.C., we developed producer responsibility models in the Great Lakes region that were further developed and implemented expertly by Alameda County, which prevailed against legal challenges by the industry all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Teleosis Institute, California Product Stewardship Council, Covanta, and others have been diehard advocates of safe ways to manage the disposal of waste pharmaceuticals. As King County, Washington, and San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, and Marin counties in California know, this is a national team effort that cannot be stopped because the evidence of drug abuse deaths are as vivid as the presence of pharmaceutical compounds in our nation’s waterways.

The Massachusetts drug take-back section of the comprehensive law can certainly be improved upon. However, it is a major milestone in the history of producer responsibility, and we are honored to play a role in its development. We look forward to working with you to implement similar laws in other states and eventually at the federal level.

Scott Cassel and the PSI team


March 14, 2016

Scott Cassel, PSI - scott at productstewardship.us<mailto:scott at productstewardship.us> - (617) 236-4822
Suzy Whalen, PSI - suzy at productstewardship.us<mailto:suzy at productstewardship.us> - (617) 236-8293

Governor Signs Massachusetts Drug Abuse Prevention Bill,
First State to Mandate Drug Take-Back Program

Requires manufacturers to finance and manage safe disposal program
for leftover medications

Massachusetts - Today, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed into law a bill<https://malegislature.gov/Document/Bill/189/House/H4056.pdf> that made Massachusetts the first state in the nation to require drug companies to safely dispose of unwanted medications as part of a comprehensive drug abuse prevention strategy.

"An important goal of this comprehensive bill was to get every part of our health care system involved in reducing the misuse of opiate pills," said Senator John F. Keenan (D - Quincy), who first introduced the drug stewardship legislation, and is vice chair of a special Senate committee formed to address the state's opioid problem. "Today, for the first time, we are saying that pharmaceutical manufacturers cannot just profit from this epidemic, but must play an active role in ending it. I am very proud that Massachusetts has taken this step."

Over $1 billion<http://www.ncdoi.com/OSFM/safekids/Documents/OMCWhitePaper.pdf> in leftover drugs are thrown in the trash, flushed, or consigned to medicine cabinets each year. Drugs left in the home can get into the hands of children and potential addicts. Prescription drug abuse is the fastest growing drug problem<http://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/index.html> in the U.S. Last year, Massachusetts had 1,256 accidental drug-related deaths. When flushed or put in the trash, over-the-counter medications and prescription drugs can potentially contaminate waterways and the drinking water supply<http://www.productstewardship.us/?1019>.

"Our research has shown that pharmaceuticals from household wastewater end up in our waterways and ultimately our drinking water supplies," said Laurel Schaider, research scientist at the Silent Spring Institute<http://www.silentspring.org/>. "Preventing unwanted and expired medications from being thrown out or flushed down the drain will help keep pharmaceuticals out of the environment, and drug take-back programs can accomplish this goal."

"We applaud Massachusetts for recognizing that drug companies are responsible for safely managing leftover medicine and that this is a key element in reducing drug abuse," said Scott Cassel, chief executive officer of the Product Stewardship Institute<http://www.productstewardship.us/>, which has promoted drug take back nationwide for the past decade. "This law will save money for Massachusetts governments, which traditionally bear the burden of paying for proper disposal. It will also cover the cost of safe medication disposal<http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.productstewardship.us/resource/resmgr/Pharms_reports_factsheets/PSI_Pharms_Disposal_2014_WEB.pdf>, including at local pharmacies that are pillars of our communities."

Since 2012, seven counties on the West Coast - six in California (Alameda, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, and Marin) and one in Washington (King) - passed laws that shift the cost burden for collecting and properly managing prescription drugs to drug makers. These laws will serve to guide the Massachusetts Department of Public Health as they develop rules and regulations to implement the new state law so that it is effective.

Learn more about the Product Stewardship Institute's work on pharmaceuticals on the website<http://www.productstewardship.us/?page=Pharmaceuticals>, or contact Vivian Futran Fuhrman<mailto:vivian at productstewardship.us> at (617) 236-4771.


About the Product Stewardship Institute:
The Product Stewardship Institute<http://www.productstewardship.us/> (PSI) is a national, membership-based nonprofit committed to reducing the health, safety, and environmental impacts of consumer products across their life cycle with a strong focus on sustainable end-of-life management. Headquartered in Boston, Mass., PSI takes a unique product stewardship approach to solving waste management problems by encouraging product design changes and mediating stakeholder dialogues. With 47 state environmental agency members, along with hundreds of local government members from coast-to-coast, and 110 corporate, business, academic, non-U.S. government, and organizational partners, we work to design, implement, evaluate, strengthen, and promote both legislative and voluntary product stewardship initiatives across North America. Like us on Facebook<http://www.facebook.com/productstewardship> or follow us on Twitter<http://www.twitter.com/productsteward>.
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