Gov. Jay Inslee Thursday signed House Bill 1047, also known as the Secure Drug Take-Back Act, into law. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Strom Peterson, D-Edmonds, creates the nation’s first statewide drug take-back program that will be implemented and paid for by pharmaceutical manufacturers that sell drugs in or into Washington state.
By helping to limit the unused, expired and leftover medications in communities, the Secure Drug Take Back Act will contribute to the prevention of medicine misuse and addiction. Prescription drugs are among the most commonly abused drugs in the United States. A majority of people who abuse prescription drugs obtain them from family and friends, including the medicine cabinet. 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,” said Peterson. “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.”
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 Chief Executive Officer. “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 must also develop a system of promotion, education, and public outreach about the safe storage and collection of pharmaceuticals.
“We are so appreciative of Rep. Peterson’s leadership and the outpouring of support on this vital legislation,” stated Jeff Rochon, Pharm.D., Washington State Pharmacy Association Chief Executive Officer. “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.”
Under the new law, Washington will be the first state in the nation with a statewide system for drug collection and disposal that is 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.
“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 at the bill signing ceremony.