OAKLAND, Calif., April 21, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --Citing the lack of free, accessible programs for disposal of prescription drugs in contributing to the U.S. painkiller abuse epidemic, 23 shareholder groups with more than $50 billion in assets have asked 10 of the largest pharmaceutical companies to develop policies on industry responsibility for take back of unused and expired drugs.
The lack of convenient programs for proper disposal of prescription drugs and accessories such as needles and syringes contributes to water pollution, illicit drug use, drug addiction, and threats to sanitation workers. Drug overdose now is the leading cause of accidental death in the U.S. Overdoses from prescription pain medications killed more than 16,000 Americans in 2013.
"Shareholders are concerned that the U.S. pharmaceutical industry does not have a policy or plan for collection and processing of expired and unused prescription medications," said Conrad MacKerron, Senior Vice President at As You Sow, which organized the corporate engagement effort.
The Drug Enforcement Administration has organized periodic National Take-Back Days for medicines, and collected more than 5 million pounds of medications with just 10 events. The Obama Administration's National Drug Control Strategy calls for establishment of permanent disposal programs in communities.
As least one company has taken action. Walgreens, the largest U.S. pharmacy chain, recently announced it will install drug disposal kiosks in 500 drugstores in 39 states and Washington, D.C. as part of a broader effort to counter drug abuse, but this represents just 1% of all pharmacies.
"Shareholders expect companies that put drugs on the market with the potential for abuse to develop policies and practices to provide easy access for convenient disposal of unused drugs at the community level to keep them out of harm's way," said Cathy Rowan, Director, Socially Responsible Investments for Trinity Health, a national not-for profit health system operating in 21 states.
Shareholders sent letters to AbbVie Inc., Becton Dickenson & Co., GlaxoSmithKline, Roche Holding AG, Johnson & Johnson, Merck & Co., Novartis International AG, Novo Nordisk, Pfizer Inc., and Sanofi S.A. In addition, As You Sow has filed shareholder resolutions with AbbVie, Johnson & Johnson and Merck & Co., asking for policies clarifying their positions on responsibility for take back programs.
CONTACT: Taraneh Arhamsadr, (510) 735-8157, [email protected]
SOURCE As You Sow