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We Need a Statewide Program

Learn more about why Washington needs a statewide drug take-back program. All families and communities need access to safe drug disposal.

Medicine take-back programs are the only safe way to dispose of leftover and expired medicines

Unused, leftover drugs in our homes are endangering our children and putting our families at risk of accidental poisonings and drug abuse. And these drugs are getting into our waterways and environment when they’re flushed or thrown away. About one-third of medicines sold to Washington households – about 33 million containers of pills - go unused every year.1  That’s a big problem.                                                    

med take back mapTo meet the tremendous community need for safe drug disposal and until a statewide program is in place, some law enforcement offices, local governments, and pharmacies in Washington have started their own temporary programs - they're temporary because police, sheriffs, and pharmacies are struggling to find funds to keep them working. Right now there are take-back programs in 17 of Washington's 39 counties.  Click here to view full size map          

The results are amazing    

  • Over 89,000 pounds of drugs have been collected at 43 pharmacies in 6 counties and safely disposed in just a few years with little advertising. 
  • Police and sheriff's offices in one county collected 1,000 pounds of medicines in the program's first nine months. 
  • Another county collected almost 200 pounds in a single month at several sheriff's office locations.
  • Learn more about the amounts of drugs collected in Washington State.

In most other cities and counties, police and local governments can’t afford to start a program. We need drug take-back in all of Washington’s 39 counties, not just a few. A state-wide ongoing drug take-back program would be far more efficient and cost-effective.  Right now each city or county has to develop a separate system.

Every family in Washington deserves a safe way to dispose of their unwanted medicines. We need a statewide system for the safe return and disposal of all leftover prescription and over-the-counter medicines.     


 Who Can Make It Happen?

1 Estimates for unused containers of medicines in Washington state for 2009 were compiled from: Bush, P.J., Sanz, E.J. & Garcia, M. (1996).  Section II: Cross cultural reports. Medicines at Home:  the Contents of Medicines Cabinets in Eight Countries.  In Children, Medicines, and Culture.  New York, Pharmaceutical Products Press; Kaiser Family Foundation, State Health Facts. (2009). Total Number of Retail Prescription Drugs Filled at Pharmacies. Available online at:; Consumer Healthcare Products Association. (2009). Over-the-counter Retail Sales. Available online at:; Note: Mail-order prescription sales and over-the-counter drugs sales from Wal-Mart were omitted from this calculation due to the lack of available industry data.

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