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EPR bill for pharmaceuticals introduced in House

A bill for a national extended producer responsibility (EPR) program has been introduced into the House that the Product Stewardship Institute (PSI) called strongest potential federal legislation yet.

 Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) introduced the Pharmaceutical Stewardship Act of 2011, H.R. 2939, Sept. 19. The bill would require prescription drug makers to create a national collection and disposal program. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would have program oversight and appoint a board of directors to administer a default program. Manufacturers have the chance to opt-out and create an independent program. The bill would require all programs to provide a collection site in every county and city with a population greater than 10,000 or offer a pre-paid mailer. All drugs collected would need to be destroyed through hazardous waste incineration, unless the EPA granted permission for an alternative disposal method, the PSI said in a press release.

“The need for a safe drug disposal program has never been greater,” Slaughter said. “In a 2008 investigation, pharmaceutical contamination was found in 24 out of 28 metropolitan areas’ drinking water. Worse yet, used pharmaceuticals place a bulls-eye on the homes of the elderly for thieves, or can result in accidental overdose or death. The bill I introduce today would help solve this serious environmental, public health and public safety concerns by providing Americans with a convenient way to safely dispose of unneeded prescription drugs.”

The PSI supports the bill. “I think it’s a really important message that state and local governments need help from industry, that they can’t do it alone,” says Sierra Fletcher, director of policy and programs for the PSI.

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