On May 26, the U.S. Supreme Court denied a petition for certiorari filed by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America in PhRMA, et al. v. County of Alameda which sought to nullify local ordinances requiring pharmaceutical companies to finance an unused drug take-back program. The denial will have widespread impact on the pharmaceutical industry and other industries that just now comply with these extended producer responsibility (EPR) laws.
The petitioners contended that Alameda’s Safe Drug Disposal Ordinance violated the commerce clause. The ordinance applies to any company located anywhere in the world that owns the brand or trademark of any prescription pharmaceutical that, as the result of normal operation of interstate commerce, is sold or distributed in Alameda County, according to the petitioners. It prohibits instituting a local fee to recoup the take-back costs.
The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals upheld the ordinance. At least four counties have pharmaceutical EPR ordinances. Other counties and states are expected to follow suit.