A recent article by Eric Palmer of the pharmaceutical news website FiercePharmaManufacturing.com writes that some trade groups, including PhRMA are trying to overturn a law passed unanimously in Alameda County, California that requires pharmaceutical manufacturers to pay for a medication “recycling” program for currently in place in the San Francisco Bay area.
As the law makes the cost of disposal of unused and expired drugs fall on pharmaceutical companies, of course pharmaceutical companies have been pushing to overturn since its inception a year ago. Currently, PhRMA is appealing a ruling by the federal district court in San Francisco that upheld the law. If the appeal maintains its current course, it will take place in April 2014 in the 9th Circuit court of Appeals. PhRMa, BIO, and the Generic Pharmaceutical Association claim that the industry is not adequately suited to be responsible for drug disposal. Drug companies and trade groups purport that the new law is forcing them away from their core business and forcing undue responsibilities.
As it currently stands, there are 28 sites where residents can drop off their unused and old medication and the price of the current program is around $330,000 a year. Part of the new law states that the companies are not allowed to cover the cost with a local point-of-sale fee, and thus PhRMA claims the law is unconstitutional because other American citizens will have to cover the cost. U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg of San Francisco disagreed with this constitutionality argument and reports that the law is fair and treats all drug companies the same.
The pharmaceutical companies have a point: one citizen should not be forced to pay for something another citizen does. However, I believe that drug companies should pay for everything related to their products, and because determining specifically which company’s drugs are being recycled more is exceedingly cumbersome, drug manufacturers should divide the costs of the recycling program based on local market share. Though that is not a simple task, it ought to be undertaken. If Company A makes 30% of the drugs sold in the Bay area, they ought to pay for 30% of the recycling program – just food for thought.