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Director: Jennifer Johnson

Secure Medicine Return

Skagit County Public Health

Medicine Return Ordinance Approved

The Skagit County Board of Health passed Ordinance # 020180003 on February 21, 2018 which adopted Skagit County Code 12.20, Secure Medicine Return.
The accumulation of unused medicines in homes is a public and environmental health issue. Though several law enforcement offices offer secure disposal boxes for unwanted or unused medicines, these locations are inconvenient for many people and lack sufficient and sustainable funding. Skagit County Board of Health passed the Secure Medicine Return ordinance to create and fund a comprehensive medicine return system for Skagit County. The approved ordinance can be reviewed by clicking on the link below:

This ordinance requires that the pharmaceutical industry producers must establish a convenient, secure medicine return system for residents that:

  • Expands safe medicine disposal options for Skagit County residents to reduce risks of misuse and abuse, accidental poisonings, and overdoses from leftover and expired medicines.
  • Reduces the amount of pharmaceuticals getting flushed down the toilet or thrown into the garbage.
  • Improves convenience for residents by expanding locations of secure drop boxes from a few law enforcement offices to also include more convenient locations like pharmacies and hospitals.
  • Provides an option for residents to dispose of unused medicine by mail at no charge.
  • Ensures financial sustainability through a pharmaceutical industry-financed system providing sufficient resources to promote the program and handle larger volumes of returned medicines.
  • Relieves the financial burden on local government and taxpayers by requiring the pharmaceutical industry to pay for these programs.
  • Provides assurance of the Secure Medicine Return program through Skagit County Public Health.

Timeline for Pharmaceutical Industry funded Secure Collection System Implementation
The pharmaceutical producers have until August 20, 2018, which is six months after the ordinance passed, to submit a stewardship plan to Skagit County Public Health.  Public Health will review the plan(s).  Once Public Health has approved the stewardship plan(s), the stewardship organization has three months to begin collection operations.  Public Health estimates that the pharmaceutical industry funded collection program should be operating by late 2018.  

Don’t we already have a secure medicine drop off boxes in Skagit County?

There are currently six law enforcement sites with medicine drop off boxes within Skagit County.  The existing voluntary program has limited and unstable public resources to sustain the current program.   The pharmaceutical industry funded collection program will provide an expanded number of more convenient drop off locations throughout Skagit County and also provide pre-paid mail back options for secure medicine return.  Click on the following document to see where you can currently take your unwanted medications

What types of medications will be collected by the secure medicine return drop boxes?
Medicine accepted for disposal from household use.
Every collection site must accept the following medicines used in the home:

  • Prescription medicines, including legally prescribed controlled substances (e.g. narcotics and stimulants).
  • Over the counter medicines.
  • Includes brand name and generic medicine in all forms  and pet medicines used in the home.

What does the new Secure Medicine Return ordinance require?
The Secure Medicine Return ordinance requires all companies that manufacture medicines which get sold in Skagit County (producers) to develop and pay for a comprehensive and secure medicine return system. This concept is called pharmaceutical stewardship.
Pharmaceutical producers can combine their resources and hire a company, or stewardship organization, to coordinate the medicine return system. The stewardship organization will be required to develop a stewardship plan that meets the requirements in the regulation. Skagit County Public Health will review the plan and oversee the approved program for safety, compliance and ongoing operation.

Other documents regarding the secure medicine return program


For more information, contact:
Britt Pfaff Dunton
Skagit County Public Health
700 South 2nd Street, Room 301
Mount Vernon, WA 98273

eh@co.skagit.wa.us
360-416-1500