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September 10, 2009

For More Information, Contact:
Melissa Figueroa (916) 651-4011


SACRAMENTO – State Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) announced today that his bill, SB 486, to facilitate the safe disposal of “sharps” (a type of medical waste that includes syringes and needles) passed its final hurdle in the Legislature.  It now heads to the Governor, who has 30 days to either sign or veto it.

“For anyone with a family member who takes insulin or other medical injections, this idea will seem long overdue,” Simitian said. “We tell patients they can’t throw sharps away, it’s against the law; but there isn’t an easy, safe solution. The net effect is that roughly one million Californians are ‘lawbreakers’,” said Simitian, “with no practical alternative. SB 486 is a step toward a real solution.  The bill makes it easier to do the right thing, and we should all be safer as a result.”

SB 486 requires pharmaceutical manufacturers who sell medications that are routinely injected at home to include information on their website if they provide safe needle collection and disposal programs for their drugs. In addition they must also submit those plans to the State for display on a State website.  “This should provide consumers using ‘sharps’ the opportunity to do some comparison shopping,” said Simitian. “It will also help highlight manufacturers who are marketing consumer-friendly products, as well as those who are rather obviously part of the problem.”

The bill was one of the winning entries in Simitian’s annual “There Oughta Be A Law” contest.  Betty Lipkin, a San Carlos resident who suffers from multiple sclerosis, has several containers of ‘sharps’ in her home. She proposed the law with the hopes that it will allow patients like her to manage their sharps conveniently and safely.

“There has to be a way to get rid of these containers that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg,” said Lipkin. “I’ve never been able to find a way to do it, and I think it’s time we do something about it that’s ecologically sound and safe.”

It is estimated that over one million people in California use syringes and other sharps for home health care.  Approximately one in twelve households in California has an individual who must self-administer an injection to treat a number of illnesses including:  diabetes, cancer, anemia and migraines.  This generates approximately 386-million sharps each year in the state of California that need to be disposed of.

For more information about SB 486 or to learn more about Simitian’s “There Oughta Be A Law” contest, visit