Snohomish County launches prescription pill takeback program

EDMONDS, Wash. — Snohomish County is the latest to require pharmaceutical companies to pay for a drug takeback program.

On Tuesday, the county unveiled its first prescription pill dropbox inside the Edmonds Police Department.

In the coming weeks they plan to open more than 25 dropboxes across the county. Many of them will be at police stations and pharmacies.

“About a third of all medicines prescribed do not go used,” said Jeff Ketchel, of  the Snohomish Health District.

Many powerful painkillers like Oxycotin end up in medicine cabinets.

“Many teenagers are able to access painkillers,” Ketchel said.

Instead of flushing them down the toilet, which hurts the environment, health officials are asking people to drop them off at the kiosks.

“You can’t steal, you can’t get in here at all,” Ketchel said.

Ketchel says the kiosks area designed so that thieves cannot break in.

The program also won’t cost the county a penny.

An ordinance requires pharmaceutical companies to foot about $500,000 a year to pick up and dispose of the pills.

“This is an important piece of the puzzle to deal with the crisis not going anywhere,” said state Rep. Strom Peterson, D-Edmonds.

Peterson is trying to push legislation requiring prescription pill dropboxes statewide.

“My family has lost people because of opioid overdoses, many of which started with that kind of thing -- with young people experimenting,” Peterson said.

Parents hearing about the dropboxes say it reduces the stress of what to do with unused pills.

“You don’t want to throw it away in the garbage so sometimes you are looking for all the different ways,” Rebecca Eborall said.

The kiosk is not just for prescription pills -- you can drop off everything from aspirin to blood pressure medication.