Drug overdoses have surpassed car crashes as the leading cause of accidental death in Washington (the majority involve prescription opiates). Think of the millions of dollars we spend in Washington on traffic safety to prevent car crashes, compared with spending almost nothing on preventing the No. 1 cause.
Substitute Senate Bill 5234 mandates that the industry create a secure medicine return program statewide, similar to the current e-waste program. If keeping electronic waste out of the environment was important, then this is an emergency.
The cost to society is not only in emotional losses but fiscal as well. The number of emergency-room visits due to medicine overdoses is skyrocketing – increasing 111 percent from 2004 to 2008. Deaths from narcotic overdoses increased 395 percent from 1990 to 2006 in Washington.
What did this cost the state? We spend $31 million in Washington each year to treat patients who have accidentally or intentionally misused medicines.
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By reducing access to medicines, we can reduce accidental poisonings and overdoses and reduce these costs to the state.
Why should governments, law enforcement and small pharmacies who are strapped for funding pay for take-back programs? We need a statewide medicine take-back program paid for by pharmaceutical companies.