Secure medicine return has been a major area of focus for Skagit County Public Health for several years now. You may have seen return boxes popping up here and there over the past 2-3 years at police departments, pharmacies, and county buildings. You might have also taken part in one of our local take back events, hosted by law enforcement and prevention coalitions, which take place every April and October.
What you may not know though is that Washington State only just recently adopted a statewide Secure Medicine Return Program, which officially launched on November 21! If you have questions about the program, and about how to dispose of your unused or expired medication, please read on…
What is the Secure Medication Program?
Safe Medication Return is a unified, statewide program that gives Washington residents free, convenient, and environmentally responsible options to dispose of unwanted medication. Drug manufacturers fund the program at no cost to taxpayers.
Safe Medication Return is operated by MED-Project, which is the approved program operator. The Washington State Department of Health oversees the establishment of the program, monitors on-going operations, manages enforcement when compliance issues arise, and evaluates program effectiveness.
Why is secure medication disposal important?
Properly disposing unused and expired medication is a great way to protect your family and your community. Research has shown that unused, unwanted, and/or expired medicines in your home pose an increased risk for drug misuse/abuse. Local data has shown that the home medicine cabinet is one of the most common places for people to go when looking for drugs to get high.
Accidental poisoning is also of major concern. Many young children get poisoned by taking medicine not intended for them. If medication is left out or stored improperly, the likelihood of little hands getting hold of these medications is quite high.
Lastly, disposing of medications improperly is bad for the environment. When medicines are flushed down the toilet or thrown in the trash, it pollutes our water and soil.
How does it work?
There are two main ways to return your unused medication. Both options are FREE.
- Mail in your unused medication
- Request a free prepaid envelope and one will be sent to you by mail.
- Place your unused medication in the envelope
- Mail the package as you would any other parcel.
- Take it to a drop off site
- Find your nearest drop off site, and deposit your medication in the kiosk. That’s it!
- You do not need to provide an ID, talk with anyone, or complete paperwork.
What medicines are accepted by MED-Project?
Medicines in any form including solids, liquids or patches, inhalers and prefilled products containing a sharp and auto-injectors (such as Epi Pens). This can include:
- Prescription and over the counter medicines
- Brand name and generic medicines
- Controlled substances
- Pet medications
What medicines are NOT accepted?
- Vitamins or supplements
- Herbal-based remedies and homeopathic drugs, products or remedies
- Cosmetics, shampoos, sunscreen, toothpaste, lip balm, antiperspirants or other personal care products
- Pet pesticide products contained in pet collars, powders, shampoos or other forms
- Medical sharps (needles, syringes) and empty auto injectables (such as used Epi Pens)
- Medical devices
- Medicines generated by businesses
For more information, visit the WA Department of Health’s Secure Medication webpage here. You can also contact Skagit County Public Health either by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone (360) 416-1500.
Thank you for taking this extra step to ensure the safety of your friends and neighbors!