Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley

ALAMEDA COUNTY | Groups representing a number of pharmaceutical companies asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review a 2012 ordinance passed by the Alameda County Board of Supervisors that calls for drug companies to pay for a drug take-back program.

The Wall Street Journal reported Monday the pharmaceutical trade groups filed a brief with the high court at the end of last year after a federal appeals court sided with the county in September.

“The trade groups maintain that Alameda County interfered with interstate commerce and discriminates against out-of-state drug makers,”  said the article posted on the newspaper’s pharmaceutical blog.

The underlining rationale behind the county’s drug disposal ordinance is to provide residents with an avenue to get rid of expired or unwanted prescription drugs rather than flushing them down the toilet. Doing so runs the risk of polluting the area’s water supply with trace amounts of drugs, say advocates.

Alamaeda County Supervisor Nate Miley authored the legislation two years ago amid threats from trade groups they would fight the ordinance in the courts. He also argued then, as he is today, that the price tag for the program is nominal for an industry that earns annual revenues in the billions. Miley again issued the same charge Monday. From the Wall Street Journal:

The federal appeals court, by the way, noted the pharmaceutical industry generates about $950 million in sales in Alameda County and can afford the cost of the take-back program, which the industry trade groups have estimated would cost drug makers about $1.2 million annually. The county has maintained that, since drug makers make profits on local sales, they have an obligation to help for disposal.