Bringing communities and pharma together on cost-effective, green Rx drug disposal

This post is part two of a two-part series on new drug laws in the United States. Missed part one? Check it out here.

Recently, governors in New Jersey, Oklahoma and Nevada have signed legislation to combat drug abuse, which the Center for Disease Control and Prevention classifies as an epidemic. Lawmakers in other states, including Illinois, are also working to pass laws asking state agencies to administer a statewide used prescription medication take-back program with local agencies and departments.

While these measures are being developed to help reduce prescription drug abuse, other states are working to address the environmental side of the issue. Recent studies in states like Minnesota are showing a significant increase in pharmaceuticals in lakes, rivers and streams. For example, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency published a report earlier this month on the issue, noting that chemicals such as antibiotics, nicotine breakdown products, antidepressants and medicines to regulate diabetes, cholesterol and blood pressure were found in waterways both downstream and now upstream from wastewater treatment plants.

“We have known for some time that these compounds frequently turn up downstream from wastewater treatment plants,” Mark Ferrey, the study’s lead author, said in a news release. “And recent research has shown that a surprising number are found even in remote lakes or upstream waters. But we have a lot to learn about how they end up there.

Due to this growing impact of pharmaceuticals on the environment, counties in California and Washington have passed ordinances requiring pharmaceutical manufacturers to fund safe disposal of leftover prescription drugs. The law is similar to legislation that governs the disposal of batteries, tires and other potentially harmful goods. Local government officials are placing the responsibility on pharmaceutical companies to figure out a solution and pay for other options to take-back programs as the Drug Enforcement Agency no longer financially supports them, while the pharmaceutical industry opposes the new drug disposal ordinances. As Ed Silverman of the Wall Street Journal noted in a recent Pharmalot post: “but the efforts have alarmed drug makers, which are concerned that still more local governments will pass similar ordinances and saddle them with additional expenses. The pharmaceutical industry, moreover, believes the laws are unconstitutional and is waiting to hear whether the U.S. Supreme Court will hear its objections.”

That’s where Deterra can come in to bring communities and the pharmaceutical companies together on cost-effective, green Rx drug disposal. Take-back programs have been discussed as a solution, and are a step in the right direction, but Deterra provides a more convenient, cost-effective and environmentally friendly option that goes a step further by deactivating prescription drugs. Deterra complies with the county ordinances for safe disposal while saving the pharmaceutical industry time and money to operate a program, as well as removing leftover prescription drugs from homes – and keeping them out of water supplies, landfills and the wrong hands.