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Friday, November 16 , 2018, 7:17 pm | Fog/Mist Smoke 59º

 
 
 
 
Advice

Santa Barbara County Looking at Options for Drug Take-Back Program

Santa Barbara County leaders agree that keeping those extra pain pills prescribed by a doctor or dentist from getting into the wrong hands is a priority, and they have been asking the public how to proceed since the current drug-disposal program has proven costly and unsustainable for local law enforcement.

The county Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to receive and file a report on the issue, and will get a look next year at a draft ordinance that could require pharmaceutical companies to fund the cost of a take-back program locally.

The county’s current program, Operation Medicine Cabinet, provides for eight drop-off bin locations where residents can dispose of unused medications. 

The program has been such a hit — 30,000 pounds of medication have been collected since the start in 2010 — that it has taxed law enforcement, who must make monthly trips with the loads down to an incinerator in Long Beach.

To come up with a new solution, the Santa Barbara County’s Public Health Department has been holding a series of public meetings to garner what sort of program could be started now.

Public Health’s Susan Klein-Rothschild said Tuesday that “the need is much greater than the current capacity of our program.”

The Drug Enforcement Agency, the federal entity that oversees drug take-back programs, changed some of its rules in 2014, one of which would allow pharmacies to be used as collection sites for unused drugs.

During the recent public meetings, people expressed interested in drug producers and pharmaceutical companies paying for a take-back program.

The county needs to do further analysis on the roles of pharmacies, the location of bins, safety and security, and how to serve needs of target populations, and Public Health will return next year with a draft ordinance. 

Similar ordinances have been enacted in other counties in the state, and most of the laws are on a voluntary basis, and “some pharmacies see this as a benefit,” Klein-Rothschild said.

The pharmacy at Cottage Hospital has already expressed interest, she said, but that research is still being done.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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