The King County Board of Health passed a drug take-back law to provide a safe medicine disposal system for King County residents.
Some call the program controversial because it requires drug manufacturers to pay for safe disposal of unwanted prescription drugs.
The Local Hazardous Waste Management Program would cost the county around $280,000 to install 400 disposal boxes at public locations like police stations and pharmacies.
After that, the drug makers would be required to pick up the medicines and dispose of them safely.
"Some places have them, but this would create a standard program around the county," said Inga Manskopf, Drug Prevention Coordinator for Seattle Children's Hospital. "Anytime we can reduce access to drugs kids are abusing, we want to try that"
The plan would also allow disposal of narcotics or opiates, such as Oxycontin and Heroin.
But the program does come with risk.
Alameda County, Calif., is the only other county to adopt a similar plan. The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (“PhRMA”) is suing the county for an ordinance that the lawsuit claims is confusing, duplicative and unnecessarily burdensome on consumers and
King County Board of Health chairman Joe McDermott says the county is aware of what's happening in Alameda County, but King County attorneys say the new program would be legal.
“Drug overdoses have surpassed car crashes as a leading cause of preventable death in our county," says McDermott. "The legislation before the Board is the missing piece in our state’s comprehensive effort to address the medicine misuse epidemic.”
Mit Spears, the Executive Vice President and Senior Counsel for PhRMA released this statement in response to the proposed program:
“PhRMA companies are good corporate citizens; in addition to researching new medicines that save lives, we’ve long supported local efforts at safe medicine disposal. And while we don’t oppose local drug take back programs, we do oppose a local government shifting the costs of its public programs from those who are served by those programs to consumers in other parts of the country who receive no benefits, but are expected to bear all of the costs.
We believe that there are other drug disposal options that are more effective, less costly and create far fewer opportunities for diversion and misuse. But, if King County officials elect to go in a different direction, we respect their decision. We only object to their trying to off-load the costs of their program on patients and consumers located in other parts of the country.”