San Francisco Aims to Get Drugs out of Water, if Big Pharma Lets Them

Tests of municipal drinking water around the country have turned up an alarmingly high level of pharmaceuticals in recent years. A major source of this contamination stems from unused medications being thrown away by consumers. These unused drugs are then either transferred to landfills where they leach into the water table, or they are flushed down drains directly into waterways. Since wastewater and purification treatment plants cannot filter out the medications, they eventually make their way to our taps.

Responding to this heath crisis, the City of San Francisco recently proposed a “Safe Drug Disposal” ordinance. This law would force pharmaceutical companies to pay for drop off sites at drug stores and police stations, where consumers could safely and easily dispose of their unused medications. Such regulation is not a new idea, as oil companies in California are currently required to pay for motor oil to be disposed of safely.

Yet despite this seemingly logical regulation, the pharmaceutical industry has mounted a vigorous lobbying campaign to thwart the law in San Francisco. Apparently, the drug industry is concerned that if they’re forced to pay for safe disposal in San Francisco, other cities and states might enact similar rules thereafter.

Please sign this petition to support forcing drug companies to pay for the safe disposal of their products:


Dear Mayor Lee and Board of Supervisors,

I am concerned about studies that have discovered pharmaceutical drugs in our water supplies. I believe much of this issue stems from people’s lack of access to safe disposal methods. As a result, I support the Safe Drug Disposal Ordinance.

Pharmaceutical companies that sell products that pollute our waterways should bear the burden of mitigating the problem. Please enact this sensible regulation now.


[Your name will go here]

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  1. It is shocking to me that the pharma companies would oppose this. This is why consumers have such low opinions of these companies. Do the right thing.

    • I’m not sure you can expect profit driven corporations to “do the right thing” on their own. That is the way our system is setup. If you want a company to do something that might be counter to their profit interest, then you often will need to force them.

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