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An New Law Is Born- The Safe Medication Disposal Ordinance

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signing-into-lawAfter half a decade of discussion, many attempts at creating effective policy, we are finally going to begin the move to a cradle-to-cradle approach to pharmaceutical development and consumption. On July 24th, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors, under the leadership of Supervisor Nate Miley, voted 5 to 0 in favor of a county wide ordinance that requires all manufacturers of pharmaceuticals sold in the county to provide an effective means for disposing of unused and unwanted household medications. The law, the Safe Medication Disposal Ordinance, is the first of its kind in the United States. Using an product stewardship model, the law directly ties the costs of disposal to the party making the largest profit.

Teleosis Institute launched the Green Pharmacy Program in 2009 in an effort to bring sustainability into healthcare delivery through pharmaceutical stewardship. Medication waste and disposal turned out to be the easiest entry point, the “low hanging fruit” so to speak. Little did we know that the manufacturers were going to work so hard to continue to externalize the costs of medication disposal. Not any more!

Executive Director Dr. Kreisberg and Program Manager Evin Guy have been working with the Alameda County Medication Education Disposal Safety Coalition (MEDS) for several years. At first we developed five take-back sites within the county. We designed the Alameda County Safe Medication Disposal Conference., last October. We then helped author this ordinance, providing on-going technical and expert advise during the year long process of bringing this innovative and first of its kind ordinance into being.

We, at Teleosis Institute, applaud the leadership of Supervisor Nate Miley for his on-going vision and support. We are grateful to live in a county that is able to bring positive social policy for the environment and for human health into reality. We look forward to healthier people, a healthier environment as as a healthier healthcare system.

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