Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department approved an expanded medicine take-back plan set to begin in spring 2018

The majority of responses from the public comment period support the plan’s efforts to curb the opioid epidemic, prevent accidental poisoning, protect the environment from contamination

Unwanted medicines can have unintended consequences. A new medicine take-back plan makes disposal of these medicines safer and easier. Beginning in spring of 2018, Pierce County will have more secure and convenient options to dispose of unwanted medicines, protecting our communities in the process.

On Dec. 18, Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department approved the medicine take-back plan from MED-Project—a representative of pharmaceutical producers that operates take-back programs in King and Snohomish counties. Before the approval, the Health Department considered feedback from a public comment period that ran from Dec. 4-15. The majority of the nine responses support expanded efforts for the safe and secure disposal of unwanted medicines.

“The plan protects public health and the environment from medicines that, under the wrong circumstances, can cause harm,” said Andy Comstock, Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department environmental health program manager.

MED-Project now has 90 days to implement the plan, which will bring more drop-off kiosks to hospitals, pharmacies, and law enforcement sites across Pierce County. The public will also have the option to send back unwanted medicines with postage-paid envelopes.

In Dec. 2016, Tacoma-Pierce County Board of Health passed the Secure Medicine Return Regulation to prevent the abuse of prescription drugs like painkillers—which fuel the opioid epidemic—reduce accidental poisoning among children, and prevent harm to the environment when people flush medicines down the toilet or throw them into the garbage. The regulation requires pharmaceutical producers to fund and operate the take-back plan.

Learn more about the plan, read the public comments, and find current drop-off locations at www.tpchd.org/medicine-return.

- Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department