Snohomish County WA, like too many communities across the country, is battling a devastating heroin epidemic that is fueled by prescription drug abuse. As a key part of local prevention efforts, the Snohomish Sheriff’s Office and local police chiefs have been hosting secure medicine drop boxes since 2010.  Providing safe disposal of leftover medicines to prevent misuse, protect families, and keep the excess drugs out of waterways. But local resources are not enough and too unstable to fully support the drug take-back program.

In June, the Snohomish County Board of Health passed the 2nd county-level pharmaceutical stewardship law in Washington State, and the 8th county law in the nation.  Kudos to the Board of Health for taking this action!  The new law will:

  • Increase safe medicine disposal options for county residents.
  • Improve convenience by expanding locations of secure drop boxes from law enforcement offices to pharmacies and hospitals, as now allowed under DEA regulations.
  • Ensure financial sustainability through a pharmaceutical industry-financed system that provides sufficient resources to promote the program and handle larger volumes of returned medicines.

CEH Strategies served as policy consultant to the Snohomish Health District and their Board of Health during this policy process. I provided technical expertise and analysis, and adapted the legislative language of King County’s 2013 Secure Medicine Return Regulations for Snohomish County’s needs. I also refined some aspects of the policy for even better alignment with the DEA’s Rule on Disposal of Controlled Substances.  The final ordinance and resources from the policy process are online here:

This article in the Everett Herald is a good read on the new law and why it’s needed to expand drug take-back services for county residents and relieve the burden on the Sheriff’s long-running and successful program.

Learn more about Pharmaceutical Stewardship Policies on my Safer Meds page.