A new bill that would create a statewide system for safely disposing of unwanted drugs and medications is being considered in Springfield.
The state does not have a comprehensive plan to help people dispose of unused drugs. A patchwork of county-level and privately run collection programs serve some Illinois residents.
“They are going above and beyond what they’re being required to do to make sure that consumers have convenient and accessible take back options currently,” said advocate Colleen Smith of the Illinois Environmental Council.
A proposed law, House Bill 4888, would create a statewide system of collection.
Smith said the fee-based program is facing an uphill battle.
“Surprisingly, big pharma doesn’t want to be responsible for the problem they’ve created,” she said.
Lawmakers are looking at two possible ways to fund the program. The first option would allow drug companies to pay a $5,000 fee and create their own disposal plans. The second is a reimbursement program that would have drug companies paying counties and retailers to expand existing take backs.
Smith said both ideas face opposition from drug companies.
“They don’t support change for this problem. And in fact, they’ve suggested that they would even pass the costs of this type of program onto consumers,” she said.
The environmental council has built a coalition of support for the bill. In addition to helping the environment, she says drug take-back bills would also help dispose of unused narcotics. Those can be a gateway to drug abuse, public health advocates say.
The proposed law, House Bill 4888, remains in committee in Springfield.