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King County enacts nation's second drug take-back law

The King County Board of Health approved a new drug take-back law this month, aimed at reducing the rate of death and overdose from prescription medications. - File photo
The King County Board of Health approved a new drug take-back law this month, aimed at reducing the rate of death and overdose from prescription medications.
— image credit: File photo

From staff reports:

The King County Board of Health approved a new drug take-back law this month, aimed at reducing the rate of death and overdose from prescription medications.

The new law "promotes the safe disposal of unused prescription and over-the-counter medications" and will be funded by the drug manufacturers themselves.

This new program will allow "residents…(to) dispose of unwanted medicines at pharmacies and other secure locations across the county for no charge."

The law is the second in the nation for this issue, following one passed in Alameda County, Calif.

The legislation is meant to combat the fact that more people in King County die from prescription drug overdoses than heroin and cocaine combined. Child safety is also an issue, with 32 percent of child poisoning deaths in Washington coming from the ingestion of prescription medications not meant for them, and 26 percent of those same deaths were caused by over-the-counter medications.

"The more effective solution to the drug abuse crisis is prevention," said board member Dr. Bud Nicola. "Making it easy for residents to use a take-back system means fewer drugs in medicine cabinets, leading to fewer overdoses and poisonings."

Under the new law:

• Residents will be encouraged to drop off, at no cost, their leftover and expired medicines in secure boxes conveniently located in most retail pharmacies or law enforcement offices throughout King County

• Collected medicines would then be destroyed by incineration at properly permitted facilities

• Drug manufacturers selling medicines for residential use in King County would be required to run and pay for the program

• Public Health - Seattle and King County would over see the program to ensure effectiveness and safety

Federal Way has had a couple of drug take-backs in recent years in conjunction with the Federal Way Police Department, with the most recent happening late April.

 

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