City installs kiosk to further drug take-back program

Kiosk is available in MIPD lobby at City Hall.

Mercer Island has partnered with Inmar Intelligence to ensure that residents have the opportunity to make every day medication take-back day locally.

To further its commitment in promoting community safety, the city installed a consumer drug take-back kiosk in the Mercer Island Police Department (MIPD) lobby at City Hall on Jan. 6 that will supplement the city’s successful bi-annual med take-back days. In 2022, the city collected 148 pounds of meds in October and 102 pounds in April on the days, which are run in coordination with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Inmar supplied the free LifeInCheck kiosk — one of 4,000 it offers nationwide — and it will be available 24/7 for residents to dispose of any unused or expired prescription medication (including Schedule II through V controlled substances), used or expired over-the-counter medication and pet medication.

“Unused and expired prescription medications pose a public safety and health concern, and misuse can have serious medical consequences,” reads a letter from police commander Jeff Magnan and Mercer Island Youth & Family Services (MIYFS) Administrator Tambi Cork. “For some time, MIYFS and MIPD have been working together to find a lasting solution for our community regarding the proper disposal of expired or unwanted pharmaceuticals.”

The Inmar site notes that benefits of providing a kiosk — which are largely used in pharmacies — are fostering trust and good faith with the community, providing environmental protection by reducing drug residue in the water supply and more.

Lindsey Tusing, MIPD records specialist, said that disposing of the meds is a simple process, which includes pre-stamped return envelopes that the department processes and sends to Inmar for destruction according to DEA standards.

“I think it’s just another option for folks to be reminded when they see that, ‘I should really get around to taking inventory of my medications to make sure that it’s not dangerous,’” said Tusing, adding that it should be a routine house-cleaning practice for people to add to their list.

Tusing noted that the city isn’t responding to a particular local uptick in misused med consumption, but a national problem. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, she said that eight people die each year from drug overdoses in Washington state.

“So that’s why it’s really important for folks to clean out their medicine cabinets. It’s not necessarily off the street from a stranger, it’s people that are accessing meds that they shouldn’t from the people that they know,” said Tusing, adding that the city robustly promotes the upcoming med take-back days and also mentions them for weeks afterwards.

For questions regarding preventing prescription misuse, residents can call or text the Washington Recovery Line at 1.866.789.1511 or call the MIYFS Intake line at 206.275.7657. For more information about safe disposal and storage and to avert prescription misuse, visit: