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Drug companies have joined together to oppose a local California law requiring them to run and fund a program that allows consumers to dispose of unused prescription medications, The New York Times reports.

Brand name and generic drug companies, which rarely agree on issues, are united in their opposition to the law, the article notes. Supporters of the law say assisting people in getting rid of unused medicines can reduce the chance small children will accidentally swallow pills, and helps prevent prescription drug abuse among teenagers. By providing an alternative to flushing pills down the toilet, the program can help the environment, they argue.

Most drug take-back programs are run by government agencies. The California law is the first one that requires drug companies to pay for the program. “We feel the industry that profits from the sales of these products should have the financial responsibility for proper management and disposal,” Miriam Gordon, California Director of the advocacy group Clean Water Action, told the newspaper.

The new law was approved in Alameda County, California, which includes Berkeley and Oakland. Drug companies must submit plans for the drug disposal program by July 1, 2013.

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America plans to file a lawsuit against the new ordinance on Friday in the United States District Court in Oakland. The trade group will argue the law violates the Constitution, because a local government is interfering with interstate commerce—a right that is reserved for Congress, according to the group’s General Counsel, James M. Spears. “They are telling a company in New Jersey that you have to come in and design and implement and pay for a municipal service in California,” he said. “This program is one where the cost is shifted to companies and individuals who are not located in Alameda County and who won’t be served by it.”


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