County of Marin - News Releases - Prescription for Change

For Immediate Release
December 02, 2014

Safe Disposal of Prescription Drugs and Needles Urged

Stakeholders collaborate on educational insert for newspapers

San Rafael, CA – A variety of Marin County stakeholders, including the County of Marin government, are launching an educational campaign to prevent and eventually eliminate abuses of prescription drugs and the illegal disposal of needles in the trash.

A screen grab of the cover of the Prescription for Change newspaper insertAs part of the RxSafe Marin initiative, the agencies are distributing an eight-page informational guide titled “A Prescription for Change” to be inserted into issues of the Marin Independent Journal on Thursday, December 4, and the Pacific Sun on Friday, December 5. The insert focuses on efforts being made to promote proper storage and disposal of prescribed medications and needles.

According to Rebecca Ng, who leads the County’s Environmental Health Services Division, collecting drugs and needles has been a challenge countywide despite upwards of $80,000 budgeted annually. The 15 collection locations for prescription drugs and 22 locations for needle disposal are concentrated in the most populated areas and not mandatory.

“As hard as the county is trying, due to various circumstances it is not as easy to properly return these products as it is to buy them,” Ng said. “We think drug and needle manufacturers can do a lot more to help their customers dispose of needles and unused medicines in a safe and healthful way as they do in Canada.”

Marin County Public Health Officer Dr. Matt Willis spoke at an RxSafe Marin workshop in June that included dozens of representatives from law enforcement, schools, community groups and medical professions. Among the goals set then was enhanced education for communities in safe storage and disposal of prescription medications.

“We are not only trying to protect the public from drug abuse, but we’re addressing concerns about long-term health impacts from medicines in water and unintended needle sticks,” Willis said.

Patty Garbarino of Marin Sanitary Service is one of the many community stakeholders behind “A Prescription for Change.” Her company has collaborated with County Environmental Health Services, Marin County Health & Human Services, Marin County Hazardous & Solid Waste Management Joint Powers Authority and the California Product Stewardship Council.

“This county and the haulers and local advocates have done all we can do with the resources available to prevent needle sticks, water contamination and drug abuse,” Garbarino said. “We call for the manufacturers to join us and share the responsibility to make collection more convenient and help keep our community safe.” 

“A Prescription for Change” includes features about a sanitary worker who fears being poked by a dirty needle, a couple who lost a son to a prescription drug overdose, how meds are tied to home invasions, the lethal threats that are prevalent in most households and the prescription confusion that can arise with elderly patients.

In one way or another, every Marin resident has a link to a problem that impacts the whole community, said Larry Meredith, Ph.D., Director of the County Health and Human Services Department.

“We are really fortunate to have such strong partners interested in working together to address this problem. We all share the same goal of reducing the harm of prescription drug abuse — and saving lives.”

Hard-copy versions of “A Prescription for Change” are available at the HHS Community Health office at 899 Northgate Ave., Suite 415, San Rafael and Environmental Health Services, 3501 Civic Center Drive, Room 236, San Rafael. A PDF version is available on the Marin HHS website, and will be placed on the RxSafe Marin and Environmental Health Services websites.  


Rebecca Ng
Deputy Director of Environmental Health Services
Community Development Agency

3501 Civic Center Drive
Suite 236
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 473-6907
Email: Rebecca Ng
Environmental Health Services