Pullman PD, local pharmacies offer medicine take-back programs

Pullman PD collected 339 pounds of medication in 2020; flushing medicine harms fish, wildlife



Pullman Police Department’s drug disposal bin is located in the department’s lobby and is accessible 24 hours a day.

EMMA LEDBETTER, Evergreen news editor

Improperly disposing of prescription medication can harm individuals and waterways — which is why Pullman Police Department, Cougar Health Services and other local organizations have partnered with MED-Project to provide safe disposal sites for community members. 

“It’s dangerous to be taking prescription drugs that are not prescribed directly for you from your doctor,” said Pullman Police Chief Gary Jenkins. “[This program] keeps it out of the hands of people who might get it out of the trash or if it’s sitting around the house.”

People should never flush medicine down the toilet because it can enter the sewer system and harm fish and wildlife downstream, Jenkins said. 

Residents who want to dispose of expired or unwanted medications can bring them to the Pullman PD lobby or CHS pharmacy and drop them in the secured bin. Pullman Regional Hospital’s pharmacy and Rite Aid also have disposal bins, according to the MED-Project website

No one has access to the disposal bin contents without a key, so medicine cannot be taken back once it is inside the bin, Jenkins said. 

People should remove personal identifiers from prescription bottles, he said. The program is completely anonymous, and take-back locations do not track who is dropping off medicine. 

Pullman PD has had a prescription drug take-back program since June 2010 but joined MED-Project in February 2021, Jenkins said. 

In 2020, Pullman PD collected 339 pounds of medication, he said. In 2019, it collected 464 pounds, which is the most in the history of Pullman PD’s drug take-back program. 

“Misuse of prescription drugs is … something that people at all levels of society participate in,” Jenkins said. “It’s one of those that’s really difficult for us to have an impact on from an enforcement standpoint, so this provides us some way to hopefully have some impact on the issue.”

CHS fills roughly 4,000 prescriptions every month, said CHS Pharmacy Director Gordon Hedenstrom. 

Once a prescription leaves the pharmacy, CHS staff cannot take it back, Hedenstrom said. People who want to dispose of unwanted medication they got from CHS can use the disposal bin in the lobby. 

All types of prescription drugs are accepted, including up to 6 ounces of liquids. Illicit drugs are not accepted, he said. 

MED-Project is a multistate collaboration with pharmaceutical companies to safely take back unwanted medications, Hedenstrom said. 

MED-Project also provides mail-back services upon request for people who cannot access drop-off locations.