Conlin Receives Award for Developing Secure Medicine Return Program

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Councilmember Richard Conlin

Conlin Receives Award for Developing Secure Medicine Return Program

SEATTLE — On Monday, October 21, 2013, Councilmember Richard Conlin was honored as one of the four members of the King County Board of Health Subcommittee on Secure Medicine Return to receive the Washington State Exemplary Substance Abuse Prevention Award in the Local Government category. The award was presented at the Washington State Prevention Summit in Yakima. 

The honor was conferred for their efforts to design the second mandatory collection system in the United States for unused and surplus pharmaceuticals.  The Subcommittee developed a rule and regulation to establish a secure medicine return program in King County that will reduce the amount of unused and unwanted medicines in homes and be part of a comprehensive, community-wide strategy for preventing youth substance abuse. Alameda County in California was the first mandatory collection system but it is currently being challenged in court.

"Over half of the 37,000 calls to the Washington Poison Center in 2009 were for young children poisoned by medicines found at home," said Conlin, who serves as Vice-Chair of the King County Board of Health.  "Requiring pharmaceutical companies to pay for the collection of unused or surplus medicines is a smart way to ensure the convenient, safe, secure, and environmentally-sound medicine return."

The Prevention Summit is convened by the Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery of the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services. The prevention community includes the Liquor Control Board’s Alcohol Awareness Program, Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, Washington Association for Substance Abuse and Violence Prevention, the Prevention Specialist Certification Board of Washington, and local providers.  The Subcommittee reached out to community organizations including substance abuse prevention coalitions, environmental groups, and medical providers, in addition to pharmaceutical companies to gain input about policy development.  

The adoption of a secure medicine return program in King County is part of a multi-pronged strategy for preventing youth medicine abuse. It goes hand-in-hand with coalition and community-based educational activities; the statewide prescription monitoring program; law enforcement efforts to break up illegal sales of medications; and national campaigns teaching people to lock up their medications. 

The Board of Health, led by King County Councilmember Joe McDermott, adopted the program in June of this year, and it will go into effect early in 2014.

[View in Council Newsroom]