Senator Carson, Representative Tucker, and members of the Joint Standing Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, my name is Sarah Lakeman and I am the Sustainable Maine Project Director for the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM). I appreciate this opportunity to speak to you in support of LD 1460, which would help Mainers dispose of unused drugs safely and for free.
NRCM is a strong advocate of extended producer responsibility (EPR) programs, where producers are responsible for the post-consumer recovery of their products. The proposed drug take back program in LD 1460 is no exception. We helped to craft this bill along with the lead sponsor, industry experts, and pharmacists and we feel confident that the provisions and details in the bill, along with the changes proposed in the sponsor’s amendment, would create a program that is right for Maine.
LD 1460 would create a reliable, sustainable, and convenient statewide collection program for unused drugs, which has important benefits for Mainers. This bill would:
- Decrease the risk of accidental poisoning and drug overdoses by preventing unused medications, like opioids, from accumulating in homes and getting into the wrong hands;
- Offer an environmentally safe alternative to landfilling or flushing of unwanted drugs. Without a convenient and well-established alternative, pharmaceutical chemicals can accumulate in our waters through the wastewater treatment system or in landfill leachate and pose a serious threat to people and wildlife;
- Relieve Maine communities, law enforcement agencies, and others from the burden of organizing and staffing sporadic collection events for unused drugs, saving time and taxpayer money; and
- Provide a standard way that Maine people can dispose of unwanted drugs, so they know what disposal options are available throughout the year.
Maine’s 124th Legislature was very close to passing a similar bill in 2010, LD 821, An Act to Support Collection and Proper Disposal of Unwanted Drugs. This bill would have established the first statewide drug take back program in the nation, but died between the houses when it was tabled indefinitely in the Senate due to intense pressure from the pharmaceutical industry. Since then, however, the Federal laws surrounding drug take backs have changed the landscape for drug take back programs and as a result five states have established successful producer-funded drug take back programs that we can learn from: MA, VT, WA, NY, and CA. Twenty-three U.S. cities and counties have also done so. Managing these programs costs manufacturers only pennies on a prescription, and does not increase medication cost to consumers.
We urge you to support LD 1460 for all of these reasons. Thank you for your time and consideration of these comments, and I would be happy to answer any questions that you may have.