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

Just Posted

Pharmacist Hank Chen handles customer orders on the computer at Charlie’s Drugs in the Fillmore District on Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
Walgreens closures open the door for San Francisco’s neighborhood pharmacies

‘I think you’ll see more independents start to pop up’

San Franciscans are likely to have the opportunity to vote in four different elections in 2022. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Electionpalooza: SF school board recall will kick off a flurry of local races

‘It’s going to be a lot of elections and a lot of decisions for voters to make’

Four young politicos were elected to city government on the Peninsula in 2020. From left: Redwood City Councilmember Michael Smith; South San Francisco Councilmember James Coleman; Redwood City Councilmember Lissette Espinoza-Garnica; and East Palo Alto Councilmember Antonio Lopez.<ins> (Examiner illustration/Courtesy photos)</ins>
Progressive politicians rise to power on the Peninsula. Will redistricting reverse the trend?

‘There’s this wave of young people really trying to shake things up’

The fate of San Francisco nicotine giant Juul remains to be seen, as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is reviewing whether to allow certain flavored vape products on the market. <ins>(Jeenah Moon/New York Times)</ins>
How the vape king of teen nicotine addiction rose and fell in San Francisco

‘Hey, Juul, don’t let the door hit you on the way out’

Most Read