EVERETT – Local and regional prescription collection programs are trying to keep medicine out of Washington’s drinking water and wildlife habitat.
Snohomish County has started a collection program as a partnership between police and public health officials. The pilot was started in December and nearly 600 pounds of unwanted medicines already have been turned in. The drugs are on their way to a regulated incinerator.
Group Health Cooperative and Bartell Drugs stores are also helping people safely dispose of unwanted medicines. Group Health collects about 6,700 pounds of unused medicines every two weeks in Washington state. Pharmacies are prevented by law from taking back prescription narcotics, but police are allowed to handle narcotics.
“First and foremost, we want people to treat any drug like a loaded gun,” said Pat Slack, commander of the Snohomish Regional Drug Task Force.
Police worry about the unwanted medications being sold on the streets and contributing to violence. Everett detectives suspect an Everett man was shot to death late last month over a disputed drug deal involving the pain medication OxyContin.
Dr. Gary Goldbaum, health officer for the Snohomish Health District, said improper disposal also may have serious public health consequences. The long-term impact of medicines found in water supplies is unknown.