Alameda County District Attorney's Office
Nancy E. O'Malley, District Attorney

Meet DA Nancy E. O'Malley

Alameda County Safe Drug Disposal Ordinance Making Headlines

The final hurdle facing the Alameda County Safe Drug Disposal Ordinance was yesterday overcome when the United States Supreme Court refusing to hear the challenge brought by the pharmaceutical industry against the County without comment. This affirms the 9th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals decision upholding the US District Court’s decision in favor of Alameda County’s Safe Drug Disposal Ordinance.

Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley was proud to stand with Alameda County leaders including Supervisor Nate Miley, County Council Donna Ziegler and others in support of the County's Safe Drug Disposal Ordinance at a press conference yesterday afternoon.

L-R: Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan, Alameda County DA Nancy O'Malley, Alameda County Counsel Donna Ziegler, and Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley

The Ordinance, passed in 2012, requires drug manufacturers to take ownership of the disposal costs of unused medicines in Alameda County. Since it was passed, the groundbreaking ordinance - the first of its kind in the country - has been challenged in the courts. Trade associations representing the manufacturers and distributors of pharmaceutical products filed a lawsuit against Alameda County, alleging that the ordinance violated the dormant Commerce Clause of the US Constitution as it interfered with interstate commerce. The US District Court found that the Ordinance serves a legitimate public health and safety interest and the relatively modest costs to producers do not unduly burden interstate commerce.

DA Nancy O'Malley cited the growing problem of prescription medication abuse in the county and beyond as a factor in establishing the ordinance.

"Prescription drug abuse is a significant public safety and public health concern. Studies show that the majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from the home medicine cabinet of family and friends, and Alameda County’s ordinance marks a milestone in the battle against the unsafe storage and disposal of prescription drugs.

"The safe disposal of both over-the-counter and prescription medication is vital to prevent the misuse of these substances, and to end the harmful environmental impacts of disposing of them in landfills or through our water system," DA O'Malley said.

"Over the past several years, our county has designated specific days as “Drug Take back” days, where residents can turn in unused prescription and over-the counter medication for safe disposal, with no questions asked. At our last Drug Take Back event in September, we collected over 793 pounds of unused and expired medication."

Posted on May 27, 2015