December 7, 2017

Rep. Strom Peterson (206) 556-3194 (district office) This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Melissa Morin, Whatcom County Health Department (360) 594-2054
Gary M Goldbaum, WSMA (206) 678-7774
Shari Ireton, Snohomish County Sheriff's Office (425) 249-6263
Heather Trim, Zero Waste Washington, (206) 351-2898

Secure Medicine Return Laws Pass in Clallam and Whatcom Counties

These two ordinances bring the total to six counties with important laws that help
Washington residents help address the opioid crisis

SEATTLE, WA— On Tuesday night, the Whatcom County Council, acting as the County Health Board, unanimously approved a new medicine return ordinance. 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 drugs into their local pharmacies, hospitals and other places for safe disposal. In areas without collection sites, prepaid return mailers will be provided.

“We are happy to be able to provide this new program in Whatcom County,” said Regina Delahunt, Whatcom County Health Department Director. “It’s the right thing to do for our community, and an important step in our work to prevent drug abuse and addiction.”

A similar ordinance was unanimously passed on November 21st by the Clallam County Board of Health.

Dr. Chris Frank, Clallam County Health Officer, who helped shepherd their ordinance said, “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. As the county in Washington with the highest opioid-overdose death rate, we really needed a way to encourage safe disposal of extra opioids and other medications.”

These two laws join laws already in place in King, Snohomish, Kitsap and Pierce Counties. This means that 60% of Washington’s population will now have access to safe medicine disposal.

These local laws are well aligned with the policy of the WA Secure Drug Take-back Act (SHB 1047) championed by Representative Strom Peterson (D-Edmonds). The statewide bill will continue to be pushed in the upcoming legislative session that starts January 8.

“We need a state bill so that all residents of the State can have access,” said Peterson. “Safe medicine return is a critical part of an ‘all of the above approach’ to fighting the opioid epidemic. I know first-hand the devastating effects losing someone to an opioid overdose has on a family. We’ve lost too many loved ones to opioid addiction.”

Two programs have already gone into effect under these local laws in Snohomish and King counties. The programs in these counties are run by Med-Project, an organization which is financed by more than 400 participating drug manufacturers. In both counties, the MED-Project program has greatly expanded options for residents, providing convenient and secure drop boxes at drug stores, grocery stores with pharmacies, and medical clinics.

“I have always been a strong proponent for drug take back programs,” said Sheriff Ty Trenary, Snohomish County. “I believe they are a powerful tool in fighting the opioid epidemic and prescription drug abuse.”

Dr. Gary Goldbaum on the Board of Trustees of the Washington State Medical Association and former Health Officer for Snohomish County said, “These laws and programs are a key step to reducing overdoses, suicides and childhood poisoning. The medicine cabinet has been an easy pathway for access to drugs. Most residents are eager to get these medicines out of their homes.”

The new ordinances in Whatcom and Clallam took effect immediately, and require that pharmaceutical manufacturers submit their proposed plans for the secure medicine return system within 6 months.

To find out more about the Whatcom ordinance: link to Whatcom legislation as passed

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


Last Updated (Friday, 08 December 2017 09:40)