Asking drug manufacturers to pay for a statewide take-back program is just common sense. Every year Washington residents spend over $4 billion for prescription and over-the-counter medicines. Drug manufacturers spend $451 million a year in Washington promoting their products. For a small fraction of this cost the multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical industry can fund a safe take-back program, and we can protect our kids, families and environment from unwanted medicines.
"It's time that drug companies step up and help us solve this problem. It's not a core function of government or law enforcement to provide for the safe disposal of a product that the pharmaceutical industry makes." - Representative Kevin Van De wege (24th District), March 14, 2011.
To meet the growing community need and demand for take-back options, some law enforcement offices and pharmacies in Washington have started their own temporary medicine take-back programs. However, only 17 of the 39 counties in Washington currently offer these programs. Pharmacies, police and sheriffs are struggling to find funds to continue their programs. For a couple of pennies per container of medicine sold in the state, drug manufacturers could do the right thing and expand this important service statewide and relieve the financial burden on local governments, retailers and taxpayers.
The very same drug companies that are blocking safe take-back programs in Washington State already provide and pay for successful programs that take back medicines in Canada and several European countries. Why should Washington be any less safe?
When manufacturers or producers of a product take responsibility for unwanted products that they’ve produced, it is known as producer responsibility or product stewardship.