There’s no question about it: San Francisco’s successful drug-disposal program needs to be continued. The big question now is how.
The City started a pilot program in April using a one-time $110,000 grant from the Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America and Genentech. Since launching, people have turned in nearly 10,500 pounds of medicine for disposal.
These drugs can be dangerous when left sitting around or when disposed of improperly. Overdoses from prescription drugs are an ongoing and troubling problem, and getting rid of extra drugs can help reduce the risk.
Alternately, the drugs can end up in landfills or flushed down toilets, both of which can pollute the environment.
Wastewater plants do not remove the chemicals from the water before it is deposited elsewhere, and the effects on wildlife can be troubling.
The balance of collecting the prescription drugs and doing so in a cost-effective way that meets the guidelines of several government agencies is a tricky one. The City mulled over several other programs before settling on the current trial, and the costs or rules were too cumbersome.
But now that San Francisco has a drug-disposal program that has proven effective, officials should look for ways to secure funding to keep it going. In this case, the price appears to be just more than $100,000 each year. This is a small price to pay to dispose of unused drugs in a way that keeps the environment and residents safe.