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Curbing Prescription Drug Abuse: A Practical Step

MedicinesYesterday the Council’s public safety committee approved a resolution supporting a new prescription drug take-back program in King County. The County is currently recruiting pharmacies willing to host drug take-back drop boxes. Pharmaceutical companies provide funding for the program; pharmacies won’t have to pay at all.

I cosponsored this resolution with Councilmember González to draw attention to a practical step we can take to curb prescription drug abuse.

News reports have focused recently on the epidemic of opioid abuse. We have seen local usage of narcotics such as heroin rise dramatically, resulting in a spike of deaths related to drug overdoses. And we know that these two are linked: prescription drug abuse leads to heroin addiction.

We also know that youth and young adults are most likely to experiment with opioid pain relievers using pills that came from a friend or family member’s prescription. Putting the pieces together, we can reduce abuse by reducing the availability of excess prescription pain medication in people’s homes.

For years pharmacies have collected unused over-the-counter medicines. Only recently, however, has the legal landscape changed to allow pharmacies to collect unused controlled substances like OxyContin, Vicodin, Valium, and Ritalin.

Encourage your local pharmacy to participate in this new program. They can sign up by contacting Taylor Watson, the program manager at King County (taylor.watson@kingcounty.gov).

This resolution will be considered by the Full Council on Monday, April 4.

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