Bring out your pills!

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In the state of Washington, a newly proposed bill would require pharmaceutical companies to launch and manage a take-back program for prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Although the drug makers would be granted the liberty to decide how the program would work (whether it would entail collection sites, regular take-back events, or returning drugs through the mail), they would be forced to extend such services to every county and city in the state with a population greater than 10,000. The pharmaceutical companies would have a slight safeguard, however, since the program s cost would be capped at a mere $2.5 million annually. Proponents of the program have estimated that it would cost drug companies about 1 cent for every $16 in sales.

Lawmakers and consumer advocacy groups believe such an initiative will reduce prescription drug abuse, but ACSH s Dr. Josh Bloom thinks the proposed bill is unecessary. There are only a handful of drugs that are subject to abuse, he says. "And when it comes to OTC drugs, that number is exceedingly small. Having people return their unused Tylenol, Amoxicillin, or Zantac will do absolutely nothing to reduce prescription drug abuse.