Amid opioid crisis, drug take-backs gain popularity

Washington state is the first to create a statewide drug take-back program. Once the program gets up and running, pharmacies and law enforcement agencies are expected to be the primary sites for dropping off unused drugs. Until 2014, DEA rules allowed only law enforcement agencies to collect unused opioids.

Washington state is the first to create a statewide drug take-back program. Once the program gets up and running, pharmacies and law enforcement agencies are expected to be the primary sites for dropping off unused drugs. Until 2014, DEA rules allowed only law enforcement agencies to collect unused opioids. That authority has now been expanded to states, local governments, and agencies as well. Washington state Rep. Strom Peterson says that expansion was essential in getting his legislation passed. Lobbyists initially fought hard against it but eventually worked with the legislature on compromises, such as allowing drugmakers, rather than a government agency, to run the program, he says. "They told us that if they were going to fund it, they wanted to be able to run it, and I felt that was a fair compromise," Peterson adds. The cost of the program for the drug companies is expected to be negligible—about one-tenth of 1% of their $5.7 billion in annual sales in the state.