Skip to content

September 11, 2007
For More Information, Contact:
Sarah Mason (916) 651-4011


SACRAMENTO – State Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) announced today that his Senate Bill (SB) 966, which puts in place a drug “take-back” program, passed the California State Senate by a 28-11 vote on Monday.  The bill now goes to the Governor, who has 30 days to sign or veto it. 
“Our state ought to have a coordinated, environmentally safe program for disposing drugs.  It’s as simple as that,” Simitian said. He noted, “Most often drugs are either flushed down the toilet or thrown in the garbage where they pose a threat to the environment and contaminate our waterways.”

One of the winning entries in Simitian’s annual, “There Oughta Be A Law Contest,” SB 966 establishes the framework for a drug “take-back” program to help ensure proper disposal of over the counter drugs and prescription pharmaceuticals. 

As Simitian noted, “Few consumers have the time or the inclination to carry through with the American Pharmacists Association’s current guidelines for the safe disposal of pharmaceuticals, which involves crushing or dissolving the medication, mixing with kitty litter, sealing in a plastic bag then setting out with the trash. Let’s face it; that’s just not going to happen.”

In fact, the United States Geological Survey conducted a study in 2002 sampling of 139 streams across 30 states and found that 80 percent had measurable concentrations of prescription and nonprescription drugs, steroids, and reproductive hormones.  Exposure, even to low levels of pharmaceuticals, has been shown to have negative effects on fish and other aquatic species and may have negative effects on human health.

Without a safe and effective method for disposal, prescription drugs may be left indefinitely in medicine cabinets where they pose a threat of potential misuse or abuse.  “Teenage abuse of pharmaceutical drugs has been a growing problem in recent years,” said Simitian, “particularly in ‘pharm parties’ where kids grab whatever may be handy in the medicine cabinet at home.  Leftover drugs are an invitation to abuse,” he added.

“I am hopeful that the Governor signs this important legislation,” said Mark Murray, Executive Director of Californians Against Waste.  “The take-back provisions of SB 966 will provide consumers with a safe and convenient way to dispose of drugs while helping to protect our water quality. Senator Simitian understands that we have to rethink our ‘use and toss’ culture.”

Rebecca Kassel, a 17-year-old Santa Cruz County high school student, and Mountain View resident Abe Binder were both concerned that consumers don’t have a safe and responsible way of disposing of their unused prescription drugs; that’s why they entered Simitian’s “There Oughta Be A Law” contest.

“Right now, people throw their prescription drugs in the trash or flush them down the toilet, which contaminates our drinking water and harms marine life,” explained Kassel in her winning submission.  Kassel testified at the Capitol in support of SB 966.  She was, said Simitian, “a very effective witness.”

Simitian, who chairs the Senate Committee on Environmental Quality, was recently named Legislator of the Year by Californians Against Waste in large measure based on his authorship of SB 966.
SB 966 is supported by a broad coalition of local governments, environmental groups and consumer advocates.

To learn more about SB 966, please visit