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Director: Keith Higman

History of Secure Medicine Return in Skagit County

Skagit County Public Health

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 offered secure disposal boxes starting in 2009 for unwanted or unused medicines, these locations were inconvenient for many people and lacked 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 here:

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.

The pharmaceutical producers identified MED-Project, LLC as their pharmaceutical stewardship organization which will run the pharmaceutical take back program within Skagit County. MED- Project submitted their first draft of the stewardship plan to Skagit County Public Health August 20, 2018. Public Health conditionally approved the stewardship plan on November 16, 2018. MED-Project has been working on addressing the conditions and further revising the stewardship plan so that it will meet full approval from Public Health. The pharmaceutical industry-funded medicine collection program operated by MEDProject began operation in Skagit County February 14, 2019.

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

Six law enforcement sites had medicine drop off boxes within Skagit County since 2009. These drop box sites are converting over to the pharmaceutical industry funded drop boxes. Skagit County residents can continue to use these drop box locations as the boxes are converted over to MED-Project drop boxes during early 2019. Click on the following document to see drop box locations at the law enforcement offices.

2017 waste medicine disposal sites in Skagit County

What does the 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 is required to develop a stewardship plan that meets the requirements in the regulation. Skagit County Public Health reviews the plan and oversee the approved program for safety, compliance and ongoing operation.

Secure medicine return ordinance – summary SCC 12.20

Other documents regarding the secure medicine return program

Adopted Ordinance No 020180003 Secure Medicine Return
Public Health Department background Staff Report to Board of Health
Informational brochure: Residents
Informational brochure: Pharmacists

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