Coming soon to your pharmacy: prescription drug disposal

This morning the City Council considered a resolution encouraging Seattle’s participation in a county-wide prescription drug disposal program.

The Gender Equity, Safe Communities and New Americans Committee took up the resolution this morning, and heard testimony from Taylor Watson, program implementation manager forĀ  the secure medicine return program for King County. Her program supplies secure medicine return dropboxes in pharmacies and in law enforcement offices. There are approximately 350 pharmacies in King County and 50 police precincts, and they have funding to make enough boxes for al of them. Collection is done by two organizations, funded entirely by drug companies that offer their products in the county (under a King County ordinance requiring them to fund it). Unfortunately, DEA regulations restrict the places that can collect controlled substances, so the boxes can’t be spread more widely at this point to other locations; Council member Juarez suggested neighborhood for-profit health clinics would be a good location since they see a lot of traffic in her district particularly on weekends, but Watson explained that the regulations currently disallow that unless the clinic also has a pharmacy.

The resolution, introduced by Council members Burgess and Gonzalez, does three things:

  1. The Mayor will ask pharmacies to partner with King County to provide the safe disposal dropboxes at their locations;
  2. The City Council and Mayor will ask the Seattle Police Department to install dropboxes in each of its five precincts;
  3. The resolution asks the Department of Neighborhoods, the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs, and the Office of Civil Rights to provide assistance to King County to assure that the program is culturally and linguistically appropriate, and that it can be accessed by marginalized populations in the City.

It was noted in the hearing that prescription drug abuse is well documented to be a gateway into heroin addiction. Also, last week the CDC issued new guidelines for doctors discouraging them from prescribing opioids outside of active cancer, palliative, and end-of-life care.

The resolution got a unanimous recommendation from the committee and will come before the full Council on April 4.