North Carolina Department of Justice
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Safely dispose of old medication next week, says AG Cooper

Release date: 3/16/2012

Cooper encourages North Carolinians to participate in Operation Medicine Drop

Raleigh: North Carolinians are encouraged to safely dispose of old prescription and over-the-counter drugs next week as part of the third annual Operation Medicine Drop, Attorney General Roy Cooper said today.
 
Cooper, the State Bureau of Investigation, local law enforcement agencies, Safe Kids North Carolina, and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration are teaming up for the third year to sponsor prescription drug take-back events across North Carolina during National Poison Prevention Week, March 17-24. 
 
“While prescription drugs are legal, they can turn deadly if they get into the wrong hands and are misused,” Cooper warned. “Cleaning out your medicine cabinets and safely disposing of old prescriptions can keep these potentially dangerous drugs away from young people who may abuse them.”
 
Operation Medicine Drop aims to cut down on prescription drug abuse by encouraging people to properly dispose of old drugs that they no longer need. Cooper encouraged all North Carolina sheriffs and chiefs of police to plan prescription take-back events in their communities in cooperation with local non-profits and other groups.
 
More than 200 Operation Medicine Drop events are scheduled across the state this week. See the complete list of events for times and locations. 
 
Last year, more than 8 million doses of old prescription and over-the-counter drugs were collected at events held across the state during March and October. Among the drugs collected were controlled substances such as Hydrocodone, Oxycodone, and Fentanyl patches.
 
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.
 
Commonly abused prescription and over-the-counter drugs include painkillers, anti-anxiety drugs, stimulants, and cough and cold medicines. An estimated 42 percent of all prescription drugs go unused in the U.S. which is a contributing factor to young people having access to deadly pain medications.
 
“I urge people to think twice before you toss your old prescription pills into the trash or down the drain,” Cooper said. “Not only are these take-back events saving young people from abusing prescription drugs, they are also keeping drugs out of our water supply.”
 
Law enforcement agencies that collect drugs this week will then turn them over to the SBI for safe disposal. The SBI will destroy the drugs using incinerators approved by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
 
More information about Operation Medicine Drop is available at www.ncdoj.gov

  Contact:  Jennifer Canada, (919) 716-6413