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Policy

Supreme Court Snubs Drug Take-Back Case

by Jessica Morrison
June 1, 2015 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 93, ISSUE 22

The Supreme Court last week declined to hear a challenge that the pharmaceutical industry brought against a county’s requirement that manufacturers pay for a drug disposal program. Last year, a federal appeals court upheld a 2012 ordinance that made Alameda County, Calif., the first jurisdiction in the U.S. to require pharmaceutical makers to pay for collection and disposal of unwanted prescription medications. The challenge was brought by the Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America, the Generic Pharmaceutical Association, and the Biotechnology Industry Organization. The drug industry groups argued that the ordinance interfered with interstate commerce because it shifts the local cost of doing business to out-of-state manufacturers. The high court turned down the case without comment, allowing the appeals court ruling that affirmed the ordinance to stand. Alameda County adopted the ordinance to prevent illegal resale and accidental poisoning from unwanted drugs, as well as improper disposal, which can lead to drinking water contamination.

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