PORT ANGELES, WA – The Clallam County Board of Health voted unanimously on November 21, 2017 to adopt a regulation that creates and funds a secure medicine return program for Clallam County. The law requires drug manufacturers to finance and coordinate a convenient and secure take-back system for unused medicines. When the program is launched in 2018, residents will be able to bring leftover medications into their local pharmacies, hospitals and other locations for safe disposal. In areas without collection sites, prepaid return mailers will be available. The regulation is part of a comprehensive strategy to prevent prescription drug abuse and poisonings. Nationally, about 1/3 of medicines sold go unused and medication stored in home medicine cabinets provides teens and others with easy access to pharmaceuticals that can be dangerous or deadly if misused.
“We really needed a way to encourage safe disposal of extra opioids and other medications,” says Clallam County Health Officer, Christopher Frank. “These laws and programs are a key step to reducing overdoses, suicides and childhood poisoning. We wanted to provide access for everyone, even in the most rural parts of Clallam County, so our program will include a mail-in option in addition to the secure kiosks.”
Additionally, improper disposal of medicines down the drain or in the household trash adds to pharmaceutical pollution in the environment, including in Puget Sound and our drinking water sources. Septic and wastewater systems are not designed to treat pharmaceuticals that might be present in effluent wastewater.
“This ordinance is an important piece of the puzzle in preventing opioid addiction, and it creates a stable funding mechanism to make sure the program is sustainable,” said Clallam County Health and Human Services Director Andy Brastad.
The regulation is modeled after secure medicine return regulations enacted in King, Snohomish, Kitsap and Pierce counties. It requires pharmaceutical producers to provide and finance the secure medicine return system. The system is coordinated by a stewardship organization, which provides drop-off kiosks at approved locations and disposes of returned medicines in a secure and environmentally-sound way. The new ordinance took effect immediately and requires that pharmaceutical manufacturers submit their proposed plans for the secure medicine return system within 6 months. Clallam County Health and Human Services will oversee and monitor the program, which is expected to begin operations in late 2018.
To find out more about the Clallam ordinance: link to Clallam legislation as passed
To learn more about existing programs in King and Snohomish counties: MED-Project program