SF mandates disposal of drugs

San Francisco became the first city in the nation Tuesday to mandate a drug-disposal program funded by pharmaceutical companies.

Pharmaceutical companies will be required to set up, fund and operate a program for people to drop off their unwanted and expired prescription drugs for safe disposal by September 2011.

Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, who introduced the legislation, has said such a program would reduce accidental ingestion of drugs by children under the age of 6, limit teenagers’ access to painkillers and cut down on the suicide rate. Also, the program would combat the disposal of drugs down the toilet, increasing their chances of winding up in the Bay, he has said.

Pharmaceutical companies opposed Mirkarimi’s legislation and have successfully fought against similar efforts in other states. A compromise was under discussion for seven weeks, but ultimately agreement was not reached.

The Board of Supervisors voted 7-4 Tuesday to approve the bill. Supervisors Bevan Dufty, Sean Elsbernd, Carmen Chu and Michela Alioto-Pier opposed it.

In a letter sent earlier this year to Mirkarimi, Genentech called the proposal “unreasonable.”

“It is undeniable that the program will ultimately, at least indirectly, increase overall costs to these same consumers,” the letter said. “During a time when the cost of health care continues to rise, programs such as this would only add to health care costs while providing no quantifiable benefit.”

Genentech also says this program would “discourage investment” of clinical research going on in San Francisco’s biotech industry.

The fate of the legislation remains uncertain. The mayor could veto the bill, but it is unknown who will be mayor at that time. The board will take a second vote on the legislation Jan. 4, giving the mayor 10 days to veto it. Mayor Gavin Newsom could be sworn into his statewide post on Jan. 3, leaving the veto decision up to an interim or acting mayor, or Newsom could postpone the swearing-in to later in the week.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

Bay Area NewsGovernment & PoliticsLocalPoliticsRoss MirkarimiSan Francisco

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Jill Bonny, owner of Studio Kazoku tattoo parlor in the Haight, tattoos client Lam Vo on Friday, March 5, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
No one was fighting for tattoo artists, so they started advocating for themselves

Jill Bonny has been tattooing in the Bay Area since 2000. Four… Continue reading

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted changes to The City's streets including Slow Streets closures to increase open space access and the Shared Spaces program, which allows businesses to use public right-of-ways for dining, retail and services. (Examiner illustration)
COVID is reshaping the streets of San Francisco

Walk down Page Street, which is closed to thru-traffic, and you might… Continue reading

At a rally in February, Monthanus Ratanapakdee, left, and Eric Lawson remember Vicha Ratanapakdee, an 84-year-old Thai man who died after he was pushed to the pavement in San Francisco. (Ekevara Kitpowsong/Examiner file photo)
The criminal justice system can’t fix what’s wrong in our community

My 87-year-old mother walks gingerly, slowly, deliberately, one step in front of… Continue reading

Superintendent Vincent Matthews said some students and families who want to return will not be able to do so at this time. “We truly wish we could reopen schools for everyone,” he said. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SFUSD sets April reopening date after reaching tentative agreement with teachers union

San Francisco Unified School District has set April 12 as its reopening… Continue reading

José Victor Luna and Maria Anabella Ochoa, who cite health reasons for continuing distance learning, say they have been enjoying walking in Golden Gate Park with their daughters Jazmin, a first grader, and Jessica, a third grader. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Some SFUSD families prefer distance learning

Health issues, classroom uncertainties among reasons for staying home

Most Read