Supreme Court lets stand Alameda prescription drug law

The U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday declined to review a federal appeals court ruling upholding a pioneering Alameda County law that requires prescription drug makers to pay for drug disposal programs, according to county officials.

The decision means that the county ordinance enacted in 2012, the first of its kind in the nation, remains in effect despite repeated appeals by pharmaceuticals manufacturers.

The law requires all manufacturers whose drugs are sold in the county to pay for disposal bins for unused and expired medications as well as public education.

It is intended to protect children and the elderly from accidental ingestion of unused pills and prevent water contamination from drugs being disposed of improperly in sinks, toilets and landfill.

The plaintiffs in the case were PhRMA, the Generic Pharmaceutical Association and the Biotechnology Industry Organization, all based in Washington, D.C.

The groups’ lawsuit alleged the law intruded on Congress’s constitutional power to regulate interstate commerce in three ways: by discriminating against out-of-state manufacturers, by controlling interstate commerce and by placing a burden on such commerce.

But a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last year said the law does not discriminate because “it treats all private companies exactly the same,” whether their places of business are inside or outside the county.