North Carolina Department of Justice
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Safely dispose of old medications on October 26, urges AG Cooper

Release date: 10/24/2013

Drug take back events scheduled across North Carolina

Raleigh:  North Carolinians can safely dispose of old prescription and over-the-counter drugs Saturday, October 26 at locations statewide, 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 to sponsor prescription drug take-back events as a part of the National Take Back Initiative.

“Prescription drugs are leading to more overdose deaths in North Carolina, especially among young people,” Cooper said.  “To protect your family, clean out your medicine cabinet and dispose of old medications at an event near you.”

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 120 events are scheduled statewide.  Some agencies are holding events on other dates so consumers are encouraged to check the complete list of events for times and locations. 
During Operation Medicine Drop in March, more than 12 million doses of old prescription and over-the-counter drugs were collected at events across the state.

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 die in North Carolina each 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. 

Prescription drugs abuse is increasingly common among teenagers because the drugs are incorrectly perceived as less dangerous than street drugs and because they are often easier to obtain.

“Many people think that prescription drugs are not as dangerous as illegal drugs, but prescription drugs can be highly addictive and even deadly,” Cooper said.  “Safely disposing of your old medications can help keep dangerous drugs out of the wrong hands.”

State Bureau of Investigation agents who investigate prescription drug related crimes have seen a 400 percent increase in cases over a five year period. Agents with the Diversion and Environmental Crimes Unit investigate cases of prescription drug misuse, fraud and theft statewide and focus especially on doctors, nurses, pharmacists and others who abuse their positions to divert drugs from lawful use. 

Prescription and over the counter drugs collected by law enforcement agencies on October 26 will be turned over to the SBI for safe disposal.  The SBI and DEA will destroy the drugs safely using incinerators approved by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
More information about  Operation Medicine Drop is available at

Media contact:  Noelle Talley (919) 716-6413