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October 12, 2007
For More Information, Contact:
Paige Schoknecht at (650) 688-6384


SACRAMENTO – Governor Schwarzenegger announced today that he has signed Senate Bill 966, a bill by State Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) to put in place a drug “take-back” program to help ensure proper disposal of over the counter drugs and prescription pharmaceuticals. 

“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 was suggested by 17-year old Aptos High School senior Rebecca Kassel and Mountain View resident Abe Binder, who were both concerned about the need for consumers to have a safe and responsible way of disposing of their unused prescription drugs.

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,” said Simitian.

In fact, the United States Geological Survey conducted a study in 2002 sampling 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.

“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.”

Kassel’s view was shared by Binder, who noted in his There Oughta Be A Law contest entry, “The next generation should have access to clean water, air and food.  Whatever cheap, simple and effective measures we as citizens can come up with to protect California’s water should be vigorously pursued.”

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 was supported by a broad coalition of local governments, environmental groups and consumer advocates.

To learn more about SB 966, please visit