Requiring pharmaceutical companies to take back unwanted medicines has received the official endorsement of the Washington-based National Association of Counties (NACo). Like similar initiatives for other types of waste, pharmaceutical take-back programs seek to shift the expense of disposing of unwanted medicines from state and local governments to the products' producers.

NACo passed a resolution during its annual meeting in Nashville, Tenn., to adopt a policy supporting producer responsibility for unwanted medicines, saying that storing the medicines causes numerous and complex problems. Leftover medicine may contribute to drug abuse and accidental poisonings, and disposing of the medicines contributes to ground and surface water contamination, according to the resolution. "There are examples of successful take back programs in the U.S and Canada that benefit the health both of the environment and the population," said Ramsey County, Minn., Commissioner Victoria Reinhardt, who introduced the proposal along with three commissioners from Washington.

The Athens, Ga.-based Product Policy Institute helped develop the resolution. View more information on the resolution, and more information about NACo's recent conference.

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