Safe Drug Disposal Image

The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors passed the Santa Barbara County Safe Drug Disposal Ordinance in June 2016. The new ordinance requires any producer of prescription and over-the-counter drugs offered for sale in Santa Barbara County to participate in an approved drug stewardship program for collection and disposal of unwanted medications.

The ordinance requires pharmaceutical manufacturers to manage and fund a comprehensive program to collect and dispose of County residents' unwanted prescription and over-the-counter drugs. The ordinance will make it easier for residents to safely dispose of medications by providing more collection sites geographically located throughout the county. The proper disposal of medications will help reduce risks to health and the environment.

The ordinance is based on the concept of "extended producer responsibility stewardship" (EPRS) which makes the product manufacturers financially responsible for the full costs of their products (including disposal). Safe drug disposal ordinances based on the extended producer responsibility model have recently been adopted in Alameda County, the City and County of San Francisco, San Mateo County, Santa Clara County and Marin County.

  • » Background

      Pharmaceutical medications (prescription or over-the-counter) when taken as directed, allow us to maintain or improve our health. However, medications not completely consumed when they are purchased result in unwanted, or unused medications. Studies show that in the U.S. up to 33% of medications go unused annually.

      Unused medications cause harm to human and environmental health. Easy availability of unused medications leads to inadvertent misuse. Although these hazards can be reduced through removal of unwanted medications from homes, few options for safe and convenient disposal exist in most communities. As a result, the drugs are frequently left in homes, flushed down sinks or toilets or tossed in the garbage. Disposal by flushing or by tossing into the garbage have environmental consequences, particularly related to water quality.

      The Safe Drug Disposal Ordinance will address health concerns by establishing a number of collection sites, geographically and conveniently located throughout the county. The public will also be educated about proper drug disposal, the drug disposal program, and mail-back alternatives for people unable to travel.

      Which medicines are included in Santa Barbara County's Safe Drug Disposal Ordinance?

      Santa Barbara County's Ordinance includes medicines which meet the definition of a "covered drug". A "covered drug" means a drug sold in any form and used by County residents, including prescription, nonprescription, brand name, and generic drugs.

      "Covered Drug" does not include:

      • Vitamins or supplements
      • Herbal-based remedies and homeopathic drugs, products, or remedies
      • Cosmetics, shampoos, sunscreens, toothpaste, lip balm, antiperspirants, or other personal care products that are regulated as both cosmetics and nonprescription drugs under the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (Title 21 U.S.C. Chapter 9)
      • Drugs for which Producers already provide a pharmaceutical product stewardship or take-back program as part of a federal Food and Drug Administration-managed risk evaluation and mitigation strategy (Title 21 U.S.C. Sec. 355-1)
      • Drugs that are biological products as defined by 21 C.F.R. 600.3(h) as it exists on the effective date of the Ordinance if the Producer already provides a pharmaceutical product stewardship or take-back program
      • Medical devices or their component parts or accessories
  • » Safe Drug Disposal Ordinance Participants

      Program participants are defined as follows:

      • Drug Wholesaler: a person who buys Drugs for resale and distribution to corporations, individuals, or entities other than consumers.
      • Retail Pharmacy: a Pharmacy licensed by the State of California Board of Pharmacy for retail sale and dispensing of Drugs.
      • Repackager: a person who owns or operates an establishment that repacks and re-labels a product or package for further sale, or for distribution without a further transaction.
      • Producer: a Manufacturer engaged in the Manufacture of a Covered Drug sold in the County, including a brand-name or generic drug.


Contact Us:
Ric Hovsepian
Santa Barbara County Environmental Health Services
Program Coordinator
Secure Meds – Extended Producer Responsibility Stewardship Program (805) 681-4759