Peterson legislation provides next step to fight opioid epidemic

Rep. Strom Peterson

In an ongoing effort to combat the opioid crisis, Washington State 21st District Rep. Strom Peterson is once again advocating for legislation to require drug manufacturers that sell drugs in Washington state to implement safe drug disposal programs. House Bill 1047, also known as the Secure Drug Take Back Act, passed the House last week on a strong, bipartisan vote of 86-12.

“I applaud the House for taking action to create a statewide drug take-back program. It is a powerful tool in fighting the opioid epidemic and prescription drug abuse,” said Sherriff Ty Trenary of Snohomish County after the passage of the bill.

According to an announcement from Peterson’s office, overdose deaths have surpassed car accidents as the most common cause of accidental death in Washington state. According to the Washington State Department of Health, of the almost 700 opioid overdose deaths in 2016, more than 400 were attributed to prescription opioids. A majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the medicine cabinet.

Prescription drugs contribute to overdose and abuse, however, they are also factors in 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.

“Too many families have been torn apart by suicide and addiction,” said Peterson, an Edmonds Democrat. “Washington families need a safe, responsible way to dispose of unused medication, so we can keep protect our families and communities.”

In order to reduce the risk of drug abuse, overdoses, poisonings and suicides, the Secure Drug Take Back Act will require drug manufacturers to implement systems for the safe, secure collection of unused, expired, and leftover medications. The cost to pharmaceutical companies is estimated to be 0.1 percent of the $5.7 billion of annual sales made in Washington markets.

Under the proposed legislation, the take-back programs must operate on a year-round basis, and offer reasonably convenient drop off sites in communities across the state. Each program must also develop a system of promotion, education, and public outreach about the safe storage and collection of pharmaceuticals. The bill also allows for any pharmacy, hospital or police agency to volunteer to host a secure drug drop box by ensuring their inclusion in the collection system provided by drug manufacturers.

“Nurses know that patients and families need a safe and convenient way to dispose of unwanted and unused medications in communities across our state,” said Jan Bussert, President of the Washington State Nurses Association. “We are proud to support this first-in-the-nation comprehensive legislation requiring the pharmaceutical industry to provide this service.”

House Bill 1047 now goes to the Senate for consideration.

3 Replies to “Peterson legislation provides next step to fight opioid epidemic”

  1. Imagine: 400 needless deaths in one year in our state because of prescription opioid use and, as a society we essentially ignore it. We get so excited about some perceived risks and are so blasé about other actual ones. Thanks Strom for your leadership on this.


  2. I’m far more interested in development of effective pain control drugs that don’t cause respiratory impairment than I am with whatever attempts Congress might make to fix a drug problem. Their track record in that area is… less than impressive.


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