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California appears poised to become the first state in the nation to adopt a take-back law that addresses prescription drugs and needles, a contentious issue that is slowly spreading across the country as local governments grapple with budget constraints caused by unwanted or unused medicines and the opioid crisis. And as in other states, manufacturers would have to underwrite the costs.

In a vote last week, the California senate unanimously endorsed a bill that would require companies to finance the cost of collecting and disposing of medicines and sharps, as needles are sometimes called. The measure was sent to California Gov. Jerry Brown, who has until Sept. 30 to sign the bill. A spokesperson declined to say whether Brown will do so.


If the bill does get enacted, California would become the fifth state in the U.S. to adopt a take-back law regarding medicines, joining New York and Washington, as well as Massachusetts and Vermont. However, California would be only the third state to have pursued a standalone law because the take-back programs in the two New England states were contained in larger legislation.

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