U.S. Supreme Court action upholds county's 'take-back' drug ordinance

Law makes manufacturers responsible for unused medicines disposal costs

The U.S. Supreme Court issued an order Tuesday denying a bid by pharmaceutical associations to block enforcement of a Safe Drug Disposal Ordinance passed by Alameda County supervisors in 2012.

A lawsuit filed by trade associations representing the manufacturers and distributors of pharmaceutical products filed a suit in federal court, arguing that the ordinance violated the dormant Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution as it interfered with interstate commerce.

The federal District Court ruled otherwise, finding that the ordinance serves a legitimate public health and safety interest and the relatively modest costs to producers do not unduly burden interstate commerce.

The trade associations appealed, but the 9th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals upheld the lower court's decision in favor of Alameda County.

Now, with the U.S. Supreme Court denying to hear the last appeal, the county ordinance stands.

Following the ruling, county leaders are calling on the pharmaceutical industry to assist in making the take-back program a success in Alameda County and in creating a model program that can be followed by the rest of the country.

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1 person likes this
Posted by It's the least they could do...
a resident of Laguna Oaks
on May 27, 2015 at 8:33 am

... given those legendary pharma profits.

1 person likes this
Posted by Pharma follower
a resident of Bridle Creek
on May 27, 2015 at 10:52 am

Re; ... "given those legendary pharma profits."

Those "legendary" profits support the development of new drugs after typical 10 year development cycles with very strict and closely managed FDA approval requirements through Phase 1, 2, and 3 steps focused on safety, efficacy, and clean manufacturing due diligence. Not to mention that only 10% of all drugs initially started in development finally make it through all of the multiple approval cycles and hurdles to market. The average cost to bring a new drug to market (if it makes it as one of the 10%) is about $4B or so.

So without the profits from those drugs that do make it, who pays for the development of the drugs? The Federal government has been consistently unwilling to either shorten the FDA cycle and requirements (who would want to risk something that could be toxic and deadly?, or to fund the development themselves (where does that money come from?).

Not a perfect solution, but internally funded company development with the developing company taking ALL of the risk seems to be the best solution for right now.

1 person likes this
Posted by Me Too
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 29, 2015 at 2:43 pm

"The average cost to bring a new drug to market (if it makes it as one of the 10%) is about $4B or so."

Not quite true. The real number is close to $1B or you could take big pharma's inflated number of $2.9B (which has very interesting accounting in it).

But then again, all of these numbers are already accounted for in the operating budget, so pfizer's profit of $40 billion in 2014 is not getting reinvested in new drugs (they did invest around $8B in research)

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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