The Washington State Legislature has an opportunity to act on a public safety bill that helps address the epidemic of opioid and medicine abuse and overdose deaths in our communities by creating a statewide medicine take-back program. The WA Secure Drug Take-back Bill, SHB 1047, sponsored by Representative Strom Peterson (21st, Edmonds) will create a statewide medicine return program with convenient drop boxes at pharmacies, medical centers, and police stations throughout the state for leftover and expired prescription and over-the-counter medicines.  The bill has advanced through a policy committee and a fiscal committee.  It needs a House floor vote prior to a March 8th legislative deadline.

The state-level bill’s policy is modeled on local pharmaceutical stewardship ordinances in WA, including laws in King, Snohomish, and Pierce counties.  The Herald in Everett, WA has had great comprehensive coverage of the issues and the legislation:
Representative Strom Peterson’s Commentary: Statewide drug take-back program can save lives
Everett Herald Editorial: Drug companies should pay for take-back programs

The drug take-back program will be financed by the pharmaceutical companies that make and market the medicines, relieving burdens on law enforcement, local agencies, and taxpayers. And providing the dedicated funding needed for an effective ongoing program.  The estimated cost of the drug take-back program to pharmaceutical manufacturers is only about 0.1% of annual medicines sales in Washington State which total at least $5.7 billion per year.

SHB 1047 is supported by drug abuse prevention advocates, suicide prevention organizations, law enforcement, public health officials, doctors, nurses, dentists, hospice and home care professionals, fire fighters, environmental organizations, and other public health and safety advocates.

The legislation is also supported by the state pharmacy association, the grocery association, and the hospital association – who will contribute to the manufacturers’ program by volunteering to staff secure drop boxes at convenient pharmacy locations as now allowed under DEA’s regulations.

Opposition to the policy comes solely from the pharmaceutical industry lobby, and a state business association that is influenced by pharmaceutical company members.