Friday, January 23, 2015

What's going on with King County's medicine return program?

When the state legislature failed to pass bills that would establish a statewide medicine return program two years in a row, Prevention WINS joined other substance abuse prevention, healthcare, and environmental organizations to advocate for a program in King County.  Medicine return programs are part of a multi-pronged strategy for preventing prescription drug abuse among teenagers by reducing access to the drugs in homes.

In 2013, the King County Board of Health adopted a secure medicine return program despite threats by drug manufacturers, who would be responsible for the program, of a lawsuit.  Drug companies filed a lawsuit against King County a few months after the policy was adopted.  They had already filed a lawsuit against Alameda County in California which adopted a similar policy in 2012. The drug manufacturers claim that the policy violates the United States Constitution. 

In 2014, a federal appeals court disagreed with the drug manufacturers who are now appealing to the Supreme Court.  The lawsuit against King County is on hold until a final court decision is made in the Alameda County case.  In the meantime, King County is moving forward with the implementation process which will lead to medicine return drop boxes in all pharmacies in the county. 

Teen drug abuse is a community problem that requires prevention activities conducted by multiple organizations.  Like schools implementing prevention programs, parents monitoring the medications in their homes, police hosting regular medicine take-back days, and physicians using the Prescription Monitoring Program, drug manufacturers can play a key role by running take-back programs. 

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