Drug take-back program approved in King County

by: Graham Johnson Updated:

KING COUNTY, Wash. - King County's Board of Health voted Thursday to implement a drug take-back program with hopes of preventing overdoses. And the county is forcing the pharmaceutical industry to pay for it.

Saying drug overdoses have now surpassed car crashes for preventable deaths in King County, the Board of Health voted unanimously Thursday to implement a take -back program that will allow consumers to drop off prescription and over-the-counter drugs for free at pharmacies and police stations.

Forced to pay for the program will be 167 drug makers that sell more than a billion dollars’ worth of products in King County each year. It will be up to the industry to design and implement the system, and divide up the cost.

The county estimates the program will cost around $600,000 a year -- or about two cents a prescription -- and the drug companies will not be able to directly mark up prices to cover the cost.

The program will be the second of its kind in the country. It is modeled after a program in Alameda County, California.

The pharmaceutical industry is suing to stop implementation of the California program and has signaled it is likely to sue King County.