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Subject:    Federal court upheld Alameda County‚Äôs EPR ordinance
Date Sent:    September 30, 2014

A federal appeals court rejected the pharmaceutical industry's appeal today and held that Alameda County’s Safe Drug Disposal Ordinance was constitutional under the Commerce Clause. 

Alameda County's Safe Drug Disposal Ordinance requires any prescription drug producer who either sells, offers for sale, or distributes brand name and generic drugs in the county, to collect and safely dispose of the county’s unwanted prescription drugs, no matter which manufacturer made the drug in question (i.e., extended producer responsibility). The pharmaceutical industry plaintiffs alleged that the ordinance violates the dormant commerce clause by requiring interstate drug manufacturers to conduct and pay for Alameda County’s drug disposal program. The court determined that the ordinance does not discriminate because it applies to all manufacturers that make their drugs available in Alameda County—without respect to the geographic location of the manufacturer.

The court could not say that the ordinance substantially burdens interstate commerce, given that plaintiffs provided no evidence that the ordinance will affect the interstate flow of goods. The court then noted that the ordinance’s environmental, health, and safety benefits were not contested for purposes of the cross-motions for summary judgment and that the Supreme Court is reluctant to invalidate regulations that touch upon safety.

The pharmaceutical industry plaintiffs could ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review the ruling.

PhRMA v. County of Alameda

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