Safe Drug Disposal Feedback Wanted This Week

The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department will hold two stakeholders’ meetings this week to gather input on how to more safely dispose of the unfinished medications that often accumulate in households.

In May, the supervisors directed staff to conduct stakeholder outreach and gather feedback from the community about a program that would require drug companies to pay for safe disposal of prescription drugs. A number of cities and counties have taken steps to implement such a program, but the efforts stalled when drug companies sued; they lost in lower courts. At the end of May, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case, clearing the way for Big Pharma to pay for drug take back programs. Santa Barbara County staff will return to the board in October.

The health department cites this accumulation as a risk to pets, children, teens, and seniors who may consume these drugs by mistake should they be left around the house. Furthermore, these medications have been known to contaminate the environment when disposed of improperly. Using suggestions from the upcoming meetings, health officials hope to establish a better program for unused drug disposal.

The first meeting will be held at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, July 14, at the Public Health Department Auditorium in Santa Barbara, and the second will be at 6 p.m. on Thursday, July 16, at the Santa Maria Public Library.

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