Fight to Establish Statewide Medicine Take-Back Program Gains Momentum
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 26, 2011
Haley Pingree, Media Relations, Take Back Your Meds
Fight to Establish Statewide Medicine Tack-Back Program Gains Momentum
Medicine Return Bill Receives Public Hearing in State Senate
Olympia, WA – Over 140 organizations are supporting proposed legislation to ensure the safe and convenient statewide collection and disposal of leftover medicines. The proposed bill will receive a public hearing on January 27th at 1:30pm. Senate Bill 5234 (Secure Medicine Return Bill) would require drug producers selling medicines in Washington state to provide and finance a secure take-back program for unused prescription and over-the-counter medicines. The public hearing, which will take place in the Senate Committee on Health & Long-Term Care, marks an important step toward protecting children, seniors, pets, and the environment from the dangers of unused pharmaceuticals.
According to Undersheriff Jim Chamberlain at the Thurston County Sheriff’s office, “There’s clearly a need for this program, we’ve collected 800 pounds in 9 months and there’s even more out there, but our budget is being cut further and it’s unlikely we can keep this going much more than 1 more year.”
Each year, about 33 million containers of prescription and over-the-counter drugs are left unused in Washington state. An abundance of “left-over” pharmaceuticals can lead to both drug abuse and accidental poisonings. Unused pharmaceuticals that are disposed of are often done so improperly—either by flushing medicines down the toilet or throwing them in the trash, which subsequently end up in our region’s waterways. Disposing of medicines in the trash is not safe or secure.
“Unused pharmaceuticals pose a serious risk to both human health and the environment,” said Jim Williams, Executive Director for the Washington Poison Center. “Last year alone we received over 17,000 calls concerning young children and medicine poisonings. I am pleased that this crucial piece of legislation is moving forward and drawing attention to this important statewide issue.”
Drug companies sell over $4 billion in prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications in Washington state alone every year. For about 2 pennies a container, a safe take-back program for unused medications could be implemented by the companies that manufacture and profit from the sale of these medicines. Senate Bill 5234 is budget neutral, placing the monetary responsibility for a take-back program on those who profit – the pharmaceutical companies.
About Take Back Your Meds
Take Back Your Meds is a group of health organizations, police, drugstores, local governments, environmental groups, and others in Washington State who support medicine take-back programs to reduce access to highly-addictive drugs, reduce the risk of poisonings, and reduce environmental contamination. These organizations support legislation to create a secure, statewide medicine return program for unwanted medicines from households that is financed by pharmaceutical manufacturers, and that does not rely on state and local government funding. For a full listing of supporting organizations and more information about the safe disposal of pharmaceuticals, visit https://TakeBackYourMeds.org.