[Pharmwaste] Fwd: Pharmalot article on the Pharm EPR battle in WA State

Heidi Sanborn Heidi at nsaction.us
Fri Feb 2 10:39:16 EST 2018

The letters from PhARMA opposed to this Med EPR bill and in support by law enforcement tell the story.  I highly recommend you read them both.


Heidi Sanborn | Executive Director
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C: (916) 217-1109 | heidi at nsaction.us<mailto:heidi at nsaction.us>

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Pharma struggles to ward off yet another drug take-back program<https://www.statnews.com/stat-plus/latest/>
By ED SILVERMAN @Pharmalot<https://www.statnews.com/stat-plus/latest/>
JANUARY 30, 2018<https://www.statnews.com/stat-plus/latest/>
KEITH SRAKOCIC/AP<https://www.statnews.com/stat-plus/latest/>
The pharmaceutical industry is playing an intensifying game of whack-a-mole as its latest battle over a so-called drug take-back program is being fought in Washington state, which could become the third state in the nation to force drug makers to finance collections of unused or unwanted medicines.<https://www.statnews.com/stat-plus/latest/>
The Washington bill, which was first introduced a year ago, is now gaining momentum in the state House of Representatives, where a vote may occur this week, according to legislators and lobbyists. And the lawmaker who sponsored the bill believes the state Senate will be amenable to the legislation, as well.<https://www.statnews.com/stat-plus/latest/>
“The pharmaceutical companies are putting on a full-court press to stop it,” said Strom Peterson, a Democrat. “A company makes a product — in this case, a medicine — and once it leaves their factory, they want to claim they no longer have any responsibility. And I don’t think it’s correct.”<https://www.statnews.com/stat-plus/latest/>
The skirmish reflects a growing trend among local and state governments to require companies to underwrite the costs of these programs, which are designed to reduce contaminants in drinking water and lower the threat of drug abuse stemming from drugs that linger in household medicine chests.<https://www.statnews.com/stat-plus/latest/>
Ever since the U.S. Supreme Court denied an industry request to review a lawsuit filed over a drug take-back program in Alameda County, Calif., lawmakers in different parts of the country have been emboldened to introduce bills to force companies to finance the costs.<https://www.statnews.com/stat-plus/latest/>
Currently, two states — Massachusetts and Vermont — require companies to underwrite the programs, along with four California cities and 16 counties in California, New York, and Washington, according to the Product Stewardship Institute, a nonprofit that supports drug take-back programs.<https://www.statnews.com/stat-plus/latest/>
Local and state governments argue that drug makers are capable of paying for the programs, since the companies generate substantial revenue doing business in those jurisdictions. Annual prescription drug sales in the state of Washington are estimated at $5.9 billion according to the WA Secure Medicine Take-Back Coalition.<https://www.statnews.com/stat-plus/latest/>
“I don’t think its good business. And from a state government perspective I don’t think we bear the responsibility for the effects that product can have,” said Peterson, who cited data estimating the cost of a drug take-back program would be about 0.1 percent of annual medicine sales in the state.<https://www.statnews.com/stat-plus/latest/>
We asked the Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America, the industry trade group that, along with individual drug makers, has lobbied against the bills, for comment and will update you accordingly.<https://www.statnews.com/stat-plus/latest/>
Last year, though, PhRMA issued a position paper arguing that the proposed take-back program would not achieve its objectives because kiosk drop-offs and mail-back options could prompt diversion. The trade group also indicated that the cost of such a program would cause drug prices to rise.<https://www.statnews.com/stat-plus/latest/>
And PhRMA reiterated an alternative; an industry effort called MyOldMeds.com, which recommends unused drugs should be placed with cat litter, sawdust, or coffee grinds in plastic bags, and then tossed in the trash. But environmental activists say this should be a last resort and the Food and Drug Administration recommended this option only when take-back programs are not available.<https://www.statnews.com/stat-plus/latest/>
Nonetheless, the programs have generated increasing interest as the opioid crisis worsens and, consequently, a wide array of organizations representing doctors, nurses, law enforcement officials, and firefighters have lent their support to the bill.<https://www.statnews.com/stat-plus/latest/>
“The tsunami of opioid abuse and overdose deaths in our communities is swamping the pharmaceutical industry’s tone-deaf opposition to providing secure take-back for their products,” said Margaret Shield of Community Environmental Health Strategies, who works with government on environment health issues.<https://www.statnews.com/stat-plus/latest/>
Consider the blunt language found in an open letter sent on Jan. 18 by the Washington Association of Sheriffs & Police Chiefs: “It would be ridiculous to expect local law enforcement to take back used motor oil or recalled automobiles.<https://www.statnews.com/stat-plus/latest/>
“It is equally ridiculous to expect us to pay for disposal of leftover and expired medicines, which is not a law enforcement duty. It is past time to shift the responsibility for providing drug take-back from public funds to the pharmaceutical industry.”<https://www.statnews.com/stat-plus/latest/>
Interestingly, the PhRMA trade group last week sent emails to Washington legislators to inform them of a new program launched earlier this month by Walmart that is called DisposeRx and allows people to dispose of leftover medicines in their trash.<https://www.statnews.com/stat-plus/latest/>
Peterson found the timing odd, since the email could be interpreted as an industry effort to convince lawmakers that the bill was unnecessary. A source familiar with Walmart, meanwhile, told us the retailer is not taking a position on the legislation.<https://www.statnews.com/stat-plus/latest/>
About the Author<https://www.statnews.com/stat-plus/latest/>
Ed Silverman<https://www.statnews.com/stat-plus/latest/>
Pharmalot Columnist, Senior Writer<https://www.statnews.com/stat-plus/latest/>
Ed covers the pharmaceutical industry.<https://www.statnews.com/stat-plus/latest/>
ed.silverman at statnews.com<https://www.statnews.com/stat-plus/latest/>
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