Frick's Drugs and Jim's Pharmacy no longer can accept most leftover, out-of-date or unused narcotic prescription drugs in their stores due to a ruling by the federal Drug Enforcement Agency.
The program initially allowed pharmacists Cy Frick of Frick's Drugs in Sequim and Joe Cammack of Jim's Pharmacy in Port Angeles to accept the unwanted prescription medications for disposal.
Clallam County Sheriff Bill Benedict deputized the two men so they could follow legal guidelines set in place by the Safe Drug Disposal Act.
However, receiving the used/old medications in their pharmacies jeopardized their licenses for filling narcotic drug prescriptions.
The DEA defines the end user, which a pharmacist would be once he or she received the drugs, as a distributor unless he/she uses the drug, flushes it down the toilet, throws it in the trash or gives it to a police officer.
Takes drugs next door
Frick now must sort out the narcotic drugs in front of his store and take them to the Sequim Police Station a few doors away.
"I only have to work 100 feet to the police station," Frick said.
"What has to be done at some point is that there has to be change to the controlled substances act."
The Seattle DEA office does not have the authority to issue waivers and is waiting on a bill that would amend the program to meet the goals of the Safe Drug Disposal Act.
Frick is optimistic that politicians will change the law.
"What is the DEA going to do? They are going to feel the heat to change their laws," he said. "It's supported by police departments across the country ... It's the right thing to do."
The prescription take-back program has been endorsed by all local law enforcement agencies and the Washington Board of Pharmacies for noncontrolled substances and the Washington State Attorney General for both noncontrolled and controlled substances.
The Sequim and Port Angeles police departments will partner with the Clallam County Sheriff's Office to receive any unwanted narcotic drugs directly. Frick and Cammack remain deputized and can receive unwanted prescription medications, but they will take you to their storefront to do so.
Before the program was stopped in the stores, Frick said he had received more than 150 pounds of medications.
"There was a backlog in the community."
The drug take-back program was established to protect the environment and prevent drug trafficking.
"(It) eliminates the known environmental hazards of allowing the drugs to be either flushed into the sewage system or put in a landfill," Benedict said.
Medications that are flushed go into ground water supplies cause side effects to wildlife and those who drink or use the water.
The preferred method for disposal of prescription medications is through an incinerator. The sheriff's department uses one in Spokane.
Unused drugs also are stolen and used or redistributed illegally. Frick says elders and/or people with chronic illnesses can be targets for drug theft.
As time passes and no action is taken in the Legislature, he believes more problems could arise. "It's going to create more of an issue," Frick said.
The Sequim Police Department and Frick's Drugs will accept unwanted medications during regular business hours.
The Sequim Gazette is located at 147 W. Washington Street in Sequim.
Business hours are Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Phone 360-683-3311, or toll free at 800-829-5810. FAX 360-683-6670.
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