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New drug take-back program launched in Washington to tackle opioid addiction

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The state hospital association has teamed up with a toxicology company to address one gateway to opioid addiction.

People prescribed pain medication sometimes don’t use all of it. And those drugs can get into the wrong hands. Washington residents may have another way of getting rid of their unused prescription drugs.

Soon patients sent home with pain medication may get a prepaid envelope, too. Once they’re done with their medicine, they can mail back any unused prescription.

That’s one of the scenarios that Ian Corbridge of the Washington State Hospital Association envisions. “We’re trying to make sure that we have an easy process in place for patients to get rid of unused opiates in the community," he said, "while also not making it too burdensome on them.”

The association has collaborated with Cordant Health Solutions, a Denver-based toxicology company. Cordant will collect the unused drugs and dispose of them. Since the company launched the program late July, 11 states including Washington have signed up.

Nationwide, the DEA holds a drug take-back program twice a year. At the last collection this spring, people turned in about 447 tons of unwanted prescriptions — a record number for the agency.

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