More than 8 million pills turned in during Operation Medicine Drop
Release date: 3/27/2014
AG Cooper thanks residents for cleaning out their medicine cabinets to fight drug abuse
Raleigh: More than 8 million doses of old prescription and over-the-counter drugs were collected across North Carolina last week during Operation Medicine Drop, Attorney General Roy Cooper announced today.
Since Operation Medicine Drop started in 2009, approximately 61 million total doses have been turned in.
“Thanks to North Carolinians for cleaning out their medicine cabinets and turning in tens of millions of unused pills,” Cooper said. “By safely disposing of old medications, we’re helping keep drugs out of the wrong hands and out of our water supply.”
Operation Medicine Drop aims to cut down on prescription drug abuse and environmental damage by encouraging people to properly dispose of old drugs that are no longer needed. Cooper, the State Bureau of Investigation, local sheriffs and police, the NC Department of Insurance, Safe Kids North Carolina, and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration sponsored prescription drug take-back events across North Carolina last week during National Poison Prevention Week.
With around 85 percent of participating agencies reporting so far, the Fayetteville Police Department leads the collections with 627,750 doses of prescription and over-the-counter drugs. The Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office collected 600,000 doses and the Burlington Police Department collected 136,000 doses.
Among the most popular items turned in were the painkillers Hydrocodone and Oxycodone. One take back event received 600 Actiq lollipops, a form of the powerful prescription pain medication Fentanyl.
Safely disposing of old medications through Operation Medicine Drop keeps the drugs from being misused or abused with potentially deadly consequences. Nationwide, fatal drug overdoses are a leading cause of death due to unintentional injury, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Prescription and over-the-counter medications cause more than three-fourths of all unintentional poisonings in North Carolina, according to the N.C. Division of Public Health, and approximately 1,000 people die in North Carolina each year from overdosing on prescription drugs.
Taking old medications to prescription drug take-back events like Operation Medicine instead of flushing them down the drain also protects the environment, by preventing chemicals from ending up in the water supply.
The SBI gathered drugs collected by local law enforcement during Operation Medicine Drop and will deliver them to an incinerator in Alamance County for safe destruction. The North Carolina Highway Patrol and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration are assisting in transporting the drugs.
People with medications to dispose of who missed Operation Medicine Drop have another chance on April 26, when the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration will sponsor drug take-back events nationwide. Check the list of take back events scheduled in North Carolina.
Year-round disposal of unwanted medications is now available in many North Carolina communities, and more residents are using them. Check the list of permanent drug drop boxes located at local law enforcement agencies in the state.
Prescription drugs are incorrectly perceived as less dangerous than street drugs, and they are often easier to obtain. According to a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services national survey, among people ages 12-17, prescription drugs are the second most abused drug, behind marijuana. The survey also found that most people age 12 or older who abuse prescription drugs get them from a friend or family member for free.
“We’re seeing more and more young people abusing prescription drugs, often with deadly results,” Cooper said. “It’s critical that we get these unused medications out of our homes and dispose of them safely.”
In addition to urging parents to clean out their medicine cabinets, Cooper is sponsoring a video contest for North Carolina high school students to help fight prescription drug abuse and overdose deaths. Students are asked to create 30 second public service announcement videos on the topic of teen prescription drug abuse. All students enrolled in grades nine through 12 in North Carolina are eligible to enter the Stop Rx Abuse contest and the top three entries will receive prizes.
More information about Operation Medicine Drop and the Stop Rx Abuse contest is available at www.ncdoj.gov.
Contact: Noelle Talley