Oregon Becomes Sixth State with Pharmaceutical Take-Back Law

(August 21, 2019) – Oregon recently became the latest state to pass pharmaceutical take-back legislation with SB 212 Solid Waste: Pharmaceutical and Sharps Waste Stewardship, which was signed into law by Governor Kate Brown. 

Five other states – Massachusetts, Vermont, Washington, New York, and California – have similar laws, which require drug manufacturers to pay for and run pharmaceutical take-back programs.  Local take-back ordinances have been passed in many cities and counties. 

Lack of appropriate disposal options for leftover prescription and over-the-counter medications can lead to drug abuse and cause accidental poisonings, and medications that are flushed may pass through wastewater treatment facilities and be discharged into the environment.  The pharmaceutical take-back laws hold accountable the manufacturers that profit from medication sales to help prevent these problems by providing convenient and safe drop-off locations for unused drugs. 

Legislation to ban plastic microbeads in cosmetic products was first passed in cities and counties, followed by state laws, and finally a federal law.  The pharmaceutical take-back laws appear to be following a similar pattern of local laws followed by state laws, and the recent successes may be the start of a larger trend to hold pharmaceutical manufacturers responsible for the proper disposal of unused medications.

NACWA encourages all its members to support pharmaceutical take-back laws in their states.  NACWA members with an interest in pharmaceutical and sharps take-back programs should contact Cynthia Finley, NACWA’s Director of Regulatory Affairs.