Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

We’ve all had little incidents in life that required us to be given prescription drugs -- pain medication for a wisdom teeth extraction or antibiotics for a bad flu. However, once the ailment runs its course, many of us simply put the unfinished pills in the medicine cabinet and forget about them. This has become problematic nowadays as prescription drug abuse has skyrocketed and the overdose figures have never been higher.

As AG McKenna told KOMO:

"It's serious enough that almost as many people are dying of prescription drug overdose as in traffic accidents in our state," Attorney General McKenna said. "Far more people are dying of accidental overdose of prescription drugs than all the illegal drugs added together. Doctors wants to be convenient, so they give'em a full bottle, and they (the patients) don't know how many they have," he said, which leads to "diversions from medical cabinets, outright theft."


As a countermeasure to this troubling phenomenon, the A.G.’s office was proud to partner with the Drug Enforcement Agency for a statewide prescription drug take back day this past Saturday. A rousing success, the events collected millions of unused prescriptions from codeine syrups to anti-depressants valued at hundreds of thousands of dollars.

According to KERP’s recap of the Kennewick area event:

Officials say they're really surprised at the numbers, but they're happy to get it off the street.

"I think the big thing we've identified today is there's a lot of medication out there. People have it because they don't know how to get rid of it. It's really opened up my eyes. I didn't realize this problem existed," Capt. Scott Child with Metro Drug Task Force said.

The Bellingham Herald added:

The drugs will be incinerated, said Doug James, assistant special agent in charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's Seattle field division. James said residents disposed of unneeded painkillers, codeine cough syrup, Ritalin, Ambien, asthma medication, and other pills DEA officials weren't able to identify. "We were pleasantly surprised with the turnout," James said. "Everyone was saying, 'We don't know what to do with this stuff.' I was quite frankly surprised by the volume. It was an eye-opening event in that respect."

Learn more about how to dispose of your unused or expired prescription drugs on our RxIQ page.

-Darius Schwarz-