Both medicine return bills that were considered by the Washington State Legislature last year, SSB 5234 and HB 1370, will be re-introduced in the 2012 session. A summary of the bills may be viewed on the Take Back Your Meds campaign website.
During the 2011 session, the Senate bill was supported by 24 Senators at the “cut-off” deadline. Support from at least one more Senator is needed to pass the bill during the 2012 session.
The Senate bill will start in Rules Committee. This means there will not be a hearing. Instead, advocates need to communicate directly with Senators about the problem of prescription drug abuse and the role medicine return programs can play in preventing prescription drug abuse. While it is important to communicate with House members, the first priority is educating Senators.
Legislators are hearing a lot from the pharmaceutical industry -- they do not want to be responsible for funding a medicine return program in our state. It is likely that the Legislature won’t act to approve the bills unless they hear from the many advocates of medicine return programs.