On March 7, the Washington State Senate failed to vote on and pass Substitute Senate Bill 5234, the Secure Medicine Take-Back Bill. The proposed legislation would have required drug manufacturers selling medicines in Washington state to provide and finance a secure take-back and disposal program for left-over or expired medicines from residents. Over 140 organizations statewide supported the proposed legislation, including sheriffs, public health leaders, substance abuse professionals, and water quality experts.
“While many Senators were strongly in favor of this bill, pressure from the pharmaceutical industry managed to derail a good piece of legislation that would help protect our families and the environment from left-over medicines. It’s unfortunate that common sense and innovation were left on the sidelines in favor of backroom politics. Washington desperately needs a secure system to safely dispose of leftover medicines from homes without hurting the environment. It’s time to put our families first, not the pharmaceutical companies,” said Karen Bowman, RN, Washington State Nurses Association.
Gearing up for next year . . . Secure medicine return bills are NOT dead for all time. The Legislature works in two-year cycles - this is year one of the 2011-2012 biennium. Every bill introduced this year is automatically re-introduced next year.
At the start of the 2012 session, SSB 5234 will start in the Senate Rules committee. If we can encourage more Senators to support the bill between now and then, SSB 5234 could be pulled straight out for a floor vote.
HB 1370 will also be reintroduced in the House.