North Carolina Department of Justice
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Operation Medicine Drop collects 8.5 million pills across NC

Release date: 10/5/2012

Local law enforcement held 150+events across NC to fight prescription drug abuse

Raleigh: North Carolinians turned in approximately 8.5 million doses of old prescription and over-the-counter drugs during Operation Medicine Drop events on September 29, Attorney General Roy Cooper announced today. That beats the previous record of approximately 7.7 million doses collected during a week of drug take back events held in March.
 
“North Carolinians cleaned out their medicine cabinets and turned in more unused drugs than ever before, keeping potentially dangerous drugs from being misused or abused,” Cooper said.
 
Operation Medicine Drop helps 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 law enforcement agencies, Safe Kids North Carolina, and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration sponsored more than 150 prescription drug take-back events in 60 counties by 98 agencies across North Carolina on or around September 29. 
 
The Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office led the collections with just over one million dosage units of prescription and over-the-counter drugs. The Union County Sheriff’s Office collected approximately 500,000 dosage units, and Greensboro Police Department collected approximately 475,000. 
 
Among the 11,000 pounds of drugs collected were painkillers such as Hydrocodone, Oxycontin and Fentanyl, all of which can be highly addictive and even deadly if abused.
 
“More and more young people are abusing prescription drugs, and most of them get the drugs from their own home or a friend’s home,” Cooper said. “By getting unused drugs out of our homes, we can help fight this epidemic.”
 
Nationwide, fatal drug overdoses are now the 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 died in North Carolina last year from overdosing on prescription drugs.
 
The intentional abuse of prescription pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants and sedatives to get high is a growing concern, particularly among teens. Among people ages 12-17, prescription drugs are now the second most abused drug, behind marijuana. 
 
Safely disposing of old medications through Operation Medicine Drop events instead of flushing them down the drain also helps the environment, by preventing chemicals from ending up in the water supply.
 
The SBI gathered the drugs collected by local law enforcement and delivered them to a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved incinerator in Alamance County for safe destruction. Thanks to the North Carolina Highway Patrol for assisting in transporting the drugs.



Media contact:  Noelle Talley (919) 716-6413