Pharmaceutical Giants Resist Maine's "Take it Back" Drive

PharmaceuticalsThe state of Maine has had enough.

A recent AP investigation revealed that concentrations of pharmaceuticals are showing up on our nation’s drinking water – everything from antibiotics, anti-convulsants, mood stabilizers and sex hormones.

Maine wants to become the first state to require drug companies to collect and properly dispose of unused medications. The idea is being cheered by state agencies, public health and environmental advocates.

Rep. Anne Perry, D-Calais, the bill’s sponsor said “there’s a great deal of support. But drug companies don’t want to see this (happen).”

Drug manufacturers would have until January, under Perry’s bill, to establish a system to collect unwanted or expired prescriptions and over-the-counter medications. Mainers would also be allowed to mail in unwanted pills and other medications, should this bill become law.

At least 5 states have proposed similar legislation, though none have as yet become law.

Maine already has a first-in-the nation mail-in program, with mailers available in pharmacies around the state. Success has its drawbacks, however. Some stores have already run out of the envelopes, and the program has run out of funding.

“Unfortunately,” Perry said, “we’re seeing more and more of the (drug) waste getting into our waters. These are side effects of just having all these pills sitting around.”

Pharmaceutical industry representatives argue the cost of such a “take back” program would be upwards of $20 million a year.

Pharmaceutical industryMarjorie Powell, senior assistant general counsel for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, said the bill would do more harm than good.

“We think it’s not necessary and it potentially raises several additional risks,” Powell said. It would, for example, “make an easy target for theft and lead to increased drug abuse,” she said.

“All of our scientific and some other groups’ studies say if you dispose of unused medicines in the household trash, that is a safe way of disposing it,” Powell said.

Sounds simple, but the reality shows the problem is much larger and complex.

In November 2008, a four-hour medication collection in Brunswick, Maine netted over 16,000 doses of controlled substances such as prescription pain pills and 825 pounds of other medications.

“If we’re getting that much in this little area,” said Connie Lewis of Harpswell, who helped organize unwanted-medication collections as part of the Merrymeeting Bay TRIAD, “imagine what’s out there.”

Expect drug companies to fight Maine and the other states to prevent something so responsible from becoming law.

Pharmaceutical Giants Resist Maine’s “Take it Back” Drive

A recent AP investigation revealed that concentrations of pharmaceuticals are showing up on our nation’s drinking water – everything from antibiotics, anti-convulsants, mood stabilizers and sex hormones.

The state of Maine has had enough.

They want to become the first state to require drug companies to collect and properly dispose of unused medications.  The idea is being cheered by state agencies, public health and environmental advocates.

Rep. Anne Perry, D-Calais, the bill’s sponsor said “there’s a great deal of support. But drug companies don’t want to see this (happen).”

Drug manufacturers would have until January, under Perry’s bill, to establish a system to collect unwanted or expired prescriptions and over-the-counter medications.  Mainers would also be allowed to mail in unwanted pills and other medications, should this bill become law.

At least 5 states have proposed similar legislation, though none have as yet become law.

Maine already has a first-in-the nation mail-in program, with  mailers available in pharmacies around the state. Success has its drawbacks, however. Some stores have already run out of the envelopes, and the program has run out of funding.

“Unfortunately,” Perry said, “we’re seeing more and more of the (drug) waste getting into our waters. These are side effects of just having all these pills sitting around.”

Pharmaceutical industry representatives argue the cost of such a “take back” program would be upwards of $20 million a year.

Marjorie Powell, senior assistant general counsel for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, said the bill would do more harm than good.

“We think it’s not necessary and it potentially raises several additional risks,” Powell said.  It would, for example, “make an easy target for theft and lead to increased drug abuse,” she said.

“All of our scientific and some other groups’ studies say if you dispose of unused medicines in the household trash, that is a safe way of disposing it,” Powell said.

Sounds simple, but the reality shows the problem is much larger and complex.

In November 2008, a four-hour medication collection in Brunswick, Maine netted over 16,000 doses of controlled substances such as prescription pain pills and 825 pounds of other medications.

“If we’re getting that much in this little area,” said  Connie Lewis of Harpswell, who helped organize unwanted-medication collections as part of the Merrymeeting Bay TRIAD, “imagine what’s out there.”

Expect drug companies to fight Maine and the other states to prevent something so responsible from becoming law.

Swine Flu Likely Not from Pigs

According to the Paris-based World Organisation for Animal Health, the “swine flu” isn’t attributed to pigs at all, but contains components of avian and human elements instead.

In a recent statement, the Paris-based World Organisation for Animal Health, also known as the OIE, said “the virus has not been isolated in animals to date. Therefore it is not justified to name this disease swine influenza.”

To call it the “North American influenza” is more logical, they said.

Director-general of the European Commission’s health and food safety department Robert Madelin said the European Union was placing no trade restrictions on imports since swine flu had nothing to do with the food chain.

The World Health Organization has dismissed any risk of infection from consuming pork, saying swine flu has not shown to be transmissible to humans through eating properly handled and prepared pork, or other pig products.

Fears of a possible global flu pandemic that would hurt fragile world economies led to a broad-based decline in stocks, oil and other commodity markets on Monday.

With several notable health organizations still investigating the source of this serious virus, caution rather than panic is called for. More information will be forthcoming as to cause and treatment. In the meantime, responsible reporting rather than a grab for shocking headlines is called for until more facts are known.

Kleenex – their Non-Sustainable Logging Practices

Softness is nice but not at the expense of our old growth forests. Kimberly-Clark, makers of Kleenex, is purported to still be harvesting wood from old growth forests, including the Boreal Forest, logging in areas containing trees 180 years old or more.

If this weren’t enough, Kimberly-Clark also purchases fiber from companies that both clear-cut and log in ecologically critical Canadian habitat.

Despite protests by K-C corporate about their sustainability practices, seems that “greenwashing” is alive and well. Cutting down old growth trees while saying you only use “100 percent recycled tree products” sounds suspiciously like a corporate game of “let’s see what the consumer will believe” or a sophisticated “shell” game.

The next time you buy tissues, remember that hype doesn’t mean it’s true.

A Cool Way to Recycle your Favorite Ride

Remember your favorite hot rod? Have an old “clunker” you love but your friends or family feels is an eyesore? Now there’s a way to keep that love alive in an earth-friendly way.

A 62 Ford Galaxie transforms into a unique coffee table

A 62 Ford Galaxie transforms into a unique coffee table

An enterprising Texan can turn “the love of your life” into furniture, even amazing art.  Joel Hester’s The Weld House in suburban Dallas specializes in creating handmade steel furniture from 20 year old cars and trucks. The end results are astonishing, beautiful and unique.

For details and pictures, see www.joelhester.com.

PG&E Plans to Beam Solar Energy From Space

PG&E recently announced plans to create a solar station to produce what they hope will be affordable renewable energy, sending microwave beams of electricity into our homes.

Solar Space project

Solar Space project

The solar “station” would consist of solar-powered satellites located 22,000 miles above the Earth’s equator that would produce 200 megawatts of power by 2016. To meet this lofty goal, PG&E has partnered with SolarEn Corp, a California-based company. The solar station – possibly miles across – would convert the sun’s rays into electricity, convert them to radio waves, then beam them back to Earth to a receiving station currently planned to be outside Fresno, California.

The proposed Solar Space Station in action

The proposed Solar Space Station in action

The estimated cost of this sci-fi sounding project is around $2 billion. 

SolarEn CEO Gary Spirnak confidently expects they’ll be able to generate 1.2 to 4.8 gigawatts of power at a price that is comparable to other forms of renewable energy.

To view an interview with SolarEn’s Spirnak, see http://tinyurl.com/ccn3pa Continue reading

Even the Friendly Skies are Going Green

It’s official. Green is everywhere. From green building to tote bags, from hybrids to clothing, you can’t turn around without hearing or reading about another environmentally-friendly company or product.

Now United Airlines has announced that as part of their “environmental commitment”, they, along with their “partner” Conservation International,  have launched a carbon offset program to “counter the impact of carbon emissions.

Fascinating that United would announce this on Earth Day. Whether it’s merely a ploy to capitalize on one of the largest environmentally-focused days of the year or a make-a-difference venture, the timing raises a red flag of caution.

Consumers should investigate this before jumping on this bandwagon.