Program Operations

Safe Medication Return is funded by manufacturers of covered drugs and implemented by program operators according to plans approved by the Department of Health.

Program operators manage drug take-back collection and disposal

Program operators must adhere to chapter 69.48 RCW, chapter 246-480 WAC, and their approved program plan.

Program operators:

  • place and maintain drug collection kiosks.
  • provide free, prepaid, preaddressed mail-back envelopes and packages.
  • organize, manage, and fund take-back events.
  • package, transport, and dispose of collected drugs (collected drugs are destroyed at facilities that meet state and federal disposal regulations).
  • make sure residents, pharmacists, and other health care professionals understand why and how to safely dispose of household prescription and over-the-counter medications (including medications for household pets).
  • provide a toll-free number and website where people can locate kiosks, order mail-back supplies, ask questions, and find information about safe medication disposal.

Safe Medication Return approved program operators are currently working on a single website and single toll-free number. In the meantime, they each have their own website and phone number:

Program operators pay all administrative and operational costs related to implementing Safe Medication Return including:

  • purchase, installation, maintenance and replacement of kiosks and kiosk supplies.
  • providing free prepaid, preaddressed mailers.
  • operation of collection events, including the cost of law enforcement staff time.
  • providing training material to kiosk and collection event hosts, and mailer providers.
  • providing educational and outreach material.
  • transport and appropriate disposal of collected drugs.

The department reviews program operator proposals on a four-year cycle. Organizations that would like to become program operators must submit proposed program plans by July 1, 2024. Current program operators must submit updated plans by July 1, 2024 also.

To submit a proposal, email the department a safe medication return operator application and your proposed or updated plan (proposal).

See Safe Medication Return homepage for information on returning your unwanted medications.

Authorized collectors host permanent collection kiosks

Retail pharmacies, hospitals and clinics with on-site pharmacies, law enforcement agencies, substance use disorder treatment programs, and other organizations that meet the requirements of RCW 69.48.060(2) can be authorized collectors.

Collection kiosks operated by a pharmacy or hospital/clinic with an on-site pharmacy may also be located at long-term care facilities.

RCW 69.48.060(1)(c) requires program operators to include as an authorized collector any retail pharmacy, hospital or clinic with an on-site pharmacy, or law enforcement agency that offers to participate without compensation and meets the requirements RCW 69.48.060(2). To get started contact MED-Project by email or at 833-633-7765.

Substance use disorder treatment program, long-term care facility, or another organization that meets the requirements of RCW 69.48.060(2), might be included as an authorized collector. This might depend on whether the service convenience goals for your area have been met. See RCW 69.48.060(3)(c) for convenience standards. To inquire about becoming an authorized collector, contact MED-Project by email or at 833-633-7765.

Mail-back distribution locations provide mail-back supplies

RCW 69.48.060(3)(d) requires program operators to establish mail-back distribution locations in areas of the state that are underserved by collection kiosks. Program operators may also establish mail-back distribution locations in other areas. Mail-back distribution locations are town halls, libraries, and other facilities that offer free, prepaid, preaddressed mailers so people can return household medications.

In areas underserved by kiosks, program operators must consult with the department, local law enforcement, local health jurisdictions, and communities to determine the number and sites of mail-back distribution locations.

Mail-back distribution locations should be able to consistently provide mailers on request.

If you are interested in becoming a mail-back distribution location, contact our program operators:

Any retail pharmacy can also distribute mail-back supplies

RCW 69.48.060(3)(e) requires program operators to provide a mail-back program (free of charge) to retail pharmacies that offer to distribute mailers. You don’t have to be an authorized collector (kiosk host) or an official mail-back distribution location in order to receive mailers to distribute.

If you are a retail pharmacy and would like to provide mail-back supplies to the public register for an account with MED-Project by calling 833-633-7765. You can use this account to order up to 250 mailers in units of 50.

Periodic take-back events supplement kiosks in underserved areas

In addition to mail-back distribution locations, RCW 69.48.060(3)(d) requires program operators to hold periodic drug take-back events in areas of the state that are underserved by collection kiosks. These take-back events are overseen by law enforcement and paid for by program operators. Program operators must consult with the department, local law enforcement, local health jurisdictions, and communities to determine the frequency and location of drug take-back events. Typically take-back events will be held twice a year in communities underserved by kiosks.

If you are interested in hosting a drug take-back event at your location contact our program operators:

 

You do not have to pay to provide mailers, or host a collection kiosk or collection event

Program operators pay all administrative and operational costs related to implementing Safe Medication Return including:

  • purchase, installation, maintenance and replacement of kiosks and kiosk supplies.
  • providing free prepaid, preaddressed mailers.
  • operation of collection events, including the cost of law enforcement staff time.
  • providing training material to kiosk and collection event hosts, and mailer providers.
  • providing educational and outreach material.
  • transport and appropriate disposal of collected drugs.
Organizations can apply to become program operators every four years

The department reviews program operator proposals on a four-year cycle. Organizations that would like to become program operators must submit proposed program plans by July 1, 2024. Current program operators must submit updated plans by July 1, 2024 also.

To submit a proposal, email the department a safe medication return operator application and your proposed or updated plan (proposal).

Program operators must adhere to chapter 69.48 RCW, chapter 246-480 WAC, and their approved program plan.