Statewide drug take-back signed into law
Last updated 4/4/2018 at Noon
Gov. Jay Inslee last week signed into law House Bill 1047, also known as the Secure Drug Take-Back Act.
The bill is a big victory for Rep. Strom Peterson (D-Edmonds), its sponsor. It creates the nation’s first statewide drug take-back program to be implemented and paid for by pharmaceutical manufacturers that sell drugs in Washington state.
Under the new law, Washington will be the first state in the nation with a statewide system for drug collection and disposal fully implemented and financed by pharmaceutical manufacturers. The estimated cost to pharmaceutical companies is 0.1 percent of the $5.7 billion of annual sales made in Washington markets.
By helping to limit the unused, expired and leftover medications in communities, the Secure Drug Take Back Act hopes to contribute to the prevention of medicine misuse and addiction.
As is evident today, prescription drugs are among the most commonly abused drugs in the United States.
Last August, the Snohomish Health District reports that there were 37 opioid overdoses within one seven-day period.
A majority of people who abuse prescription drugs obtain them from family and friends, including the medicine cabinet, Peterson said. In Washington state, overdose deaths have surpassed car accidents as the most common cause of accidental death, with over 400 opioid overdose deaths attributed to prescription opioids in 2016.
“Friends and neighbors across the state are falling victim to opioids, and I know first-hand the devastating effects losing someone to an opioid overdose has on a family,” Peterson said. “We’ve lost too many loved ones, and giving Washington families a safe way to dispose of unused medication is a critical step toward prevention, and will help protect our families and communities.”
“We are so appreciative of Rep. Peterson’s leadership and the outpouring of support on this vital legislation,” said Jeff Rochon, Washington State Pharmacy Association CEO. “Pharmacists strive to ensure the safe and appropriate use of medications. Increased access to medication take-back programs in pharmacies will create safer homes by reducing misuse of unused medications and help prevent suicide, overdoses and opioid addiction.”
Nearby, Edmonds has taken steps to make it easier for citizens to safety dispose of drugs. On Aug. 1, 2017, Edmonds became the first city in the county to debut drop-off kiosk boxes for the safe disposal of unwanted drugs.
The installation came nearly a year after the Snohomish County Board of Health became the eighth in the nation to adopt a countywide secure medicine return ordinance.
MED-Project’s kiosks replaced the boxes previously located in many police precincts around the county. The Snohomish County Partnership for Secure Medicine Disposal was formed in 2009, and included the Snohomish Health District, Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, Snohomish County, Snohomish Regional Drug and Gang Task Force, Washington State Patrol and local law enforcement agencies.
The previous box in Edmonds was one of most-used boxes in the county, Edmonds Police Chief Al Compaan said last year.
In addition to substance abuse and overdose, prescription drugs contribute to accidental poisonings and suicides. In Washington, over 150 suicides were attributed to medications in 2015. Prescription drug accumulation in homes can also increase the possibility of accidental poisonings, often due to expired medication or ingestion by a child.
In order to reduce the risk of drug abuse, overdoses, poisonings and suicides, the Secure Drug Take Back Act requires drug manufacturers to implement systems for the safe, secure collection of unused, expired, and leftover medications. To encourage communities to utilize the drug take-back programs, each program must operate year-round and include reasonably convenient drop-off sites in communities across the state.
“We know cities and towns throughout Washington are struggling with the ugly impacts of the opioid epidemic on our communities,” said Peter King, Association of Washington Cities CEO. “A great part of this new law is that cities throughout the state will have at least one secure drug collection location, removing unneeded prescription drugs from our medicine cabinets and making our streets safer.”
In addition, any pharmacy, hospital, or law enforcement agency that volunteers to host a secure drug drop box must be included in the collection system. Each program also must develop a system of promotion, education, and public outreach about the safe storage and collection of pharmaceuticals.
“This is really gratifying to me, because it was something I worked on in Congress. We got the DEA to essentially open the door to these kind of great efforts,” Inslee said.