Washington State Adopts Comprehensive Drug Take-Back Program

The most comprehensive drug take-back program in the U.S. became law in Washington state. The program aims to lower prescription drug abuse and reduce environmental contamination, and the legislation requires drug manufacturers to fully finance and operate the program.

“The pharmaceutical industry has refused for years to pay for drug take-back, but we need dedicated financing and coordination to make this work for communities,” Margaret Shield, PhD, head of Community Environmental Health Strategies, told STAT News. “With this law, we’re making clear that, in every city and town across the state, there needs to be secure drop boxes and prepaid mailers available to all residents.”

Massachusetts and Vermont also require drug companies to underwrite drug take-back programs; however, their laws are more limited. In Massachusetts, for instance, only opioid drug makers are required to participate in the program.

Last year, PhRMA, the pharmaceutical industry lobbying group, argued that such programs will not achieve their objectives through drop boxes and mail-back options. Instead, they could be targets for those wishing to divert medication for misuse. The trade group also indicated that the cost of the programs could cause drug prices to rise.

Source: STAT News, March 28, 2018.