The plan for prescriptions is changing at two local pharmacies.
Frick's Drugs of Sequim and Jim's Pharmacy of Port Angeles will be taking back old and unwanted prescriptions as part of a new free program, the Clallam County Medicine Return Program.
Enacted by Clallam County Sheriff Bill Benedict on Tuesday, Aug. 11, the program was developed locally by Cy Frick of Frick's, Joe Cammack of Jim's, Jon Bernhoft, pharmacist for Olympic Medical Center and Benedict.
"There's not a national law about taking and disposing of drugs," Frick, a pharmacist for 47 years said.
"Washington is progressive with what we're doing."
For Frick and Cammack to handle the drugs in their pharmacies, Benedict deputized them.
"The elected office of sheriff has a broad way of dealing with this," Benedict said.
"The DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) finds this to be a unique and novel way to deal with it."
Benedict and Frick encourage people to gather unwanted, "allowed" medications in their original containers and take them to Frick Rexall Drugs, 609 W. Washington St., Sequim; or Jim's Pharmacy, 424 E. Second St., Port Angeles.
See box for allowed and prohibited drugs.
The drop-off bin marked "medicine return" at both sites will be anonymous for users to drop-off, and Frick said people can black out any personal information on a bottle if they feel led to do so.
Both pharmacies receive Scheduled II - V controlled substances.
Schedule I drugs have no medicinal use in the U.S. and have a high potential for abuse such as heroin.
Drugs will be categorized into two boxes.
Scheduled drugs, narcotics and other potentially habit forming medications, will be collected on store posted dates by the respective deputized pharmacist.
Other prescriptions will be collected daily.
All drugs will be inspected before sent to Annie Lowe, property and evidence manager for the sheriff's department.
The drugs are then shipped to an incinerator in Spokane.
History of program
The disposal program currently runs in King County through pharmacy chain Bartell Drugs with help from Puget Sound Health Maintenance Organization.
"We're the only independents (pharmacies) in the state doing it" Frick said.
"Our ground water is abounding with drugs," Frick said.
"A study at Sunland (Community in Sequim) found 54 pharmaceuticals in their ground water."
"Folks are flushing their prescriptions down the toilet and/or throwing them away into the landfills," Benedict said.
"The safest way is to get rid of them at high temperatures in the incinerator."
Pollutants from medications have been found in
Sequim Bay and county streams, which additional studies are finding chemicals changing the structure of organisms and water.
"Prescriptions are forcing fish through the process of feminization," Benedict said.
"They are mutating and having both parts of a male and female."
Medications also enter water when humans and animals pass drugs through their bodies.
Frick said three to five milligrams of a drug could have pharmaceutical effects on someone.
Future of disposal
Benedict and Frick are expecting an influx of medications when word gets out on the program.
For the first shipment to the Clallam County Courthouse, Frick brought two large boxes and a smaller one with narcotics that covered just a week of unsolicited disposals.
"At our rate, we're going to fill up our trailer and possibly another," Benedict said.
The sheriff's department will transfer the supplies with their own disposables a few times a year to Spokane.
"It's our goal to slowly back out of the project as disposing of drugs like this isn't one of the goals of the sheriff's department," he said.
But Benedict insists they will help for as long as it takes.
"We know there is a huge backlog that people have been throwing away."
The Washington State Board Pharmacy endorsed it and Sequim and Port Angeles Police Departments are partnering with the sheriffs through their Olympic Peninsula Narcotics Enforcement Team.
Frick plans to process narcotics in the same day they are received.
He has had four break-ins over the past three months.
All boxes of disposed medications have a serial code to make sure they have been sealed and correctly put together, Frick said.
A form with signatures of authenticity from deputized pharmacists are required and from Lowe when she receives them at the sheriff's office to prevent tampering and theft.
"Abuse of prescription drugs is equal to or surpassing meth and cocaine use," Benedict said.
"Most people have unused/ leftover prescriptions which makes this (program) all the more important."
Reach Matthew Nash at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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