North Carolina Department of Justice
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Operation Medicine Drop collects nearly 8 million pills in one week

Release date: 4/3/2012

Local law enforcement held more than 230 events across NC to fight prescription drug abuse

Raleigh: More than 7.7 million doses of old prescription and over-the-counter drugs were collected across North Carolina during Operation Medicine Drop held March 17-24, breaking previous records, Attorney General Roy Cooper announced today.
 
“North Carolinians turned in more unused drugs than ever before, keeping them out of the hands of those who could abuse or misuse them,” Cooper said.  
 
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 law enforcement agencies, Safe Kids North Carolina, and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration sponsored more than 230 prescription drug take-back events in 71 counties across North Carolina last week during National Poison Prevention Week. 
 
The Cary Police Department led the collections with 875,000 doses of prescription and over-the-counter drugs. The Union County Sheriff’s Office collected 619,000 doses and the Fayetteville Police Department collected 290,920 doses.
 
A Wake County-area department collected 50 Fentanyl patches, one of the deadliest painkillers when abused. Another site collected a pint of liquid morphine from 1985 and a bottle of baby nose drops from 1952.
 
Safely disposing of old medications through Operation Medicine Drop events instead of flushing them down the drain prevents chemicals from ending up in the water supply.
 
The SBI gathered the drugs collected by local law enforcement and delivered them to a North Carolina Division of Environment and Natural Resources approved incinerator in Alamance County for safe destruction. The North Carolina Highway Patrol assisted in transporting the drugs.
 
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. 
 
“Prescription drugs are on their way to becoming the most abused drug by young people, and most young people get access to prescription drugs at their home or a friends’ home,” Cooper said. “Cleaning out your medicine cabinets can help protect kids from abuse and the dangers of overdose.”
 
To educate young people about the dangers of prescription drug abuse, Cooper is partnering with the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators, the North Carolina Association of Pharmacists, and the Governor’s Institute on Substance Abuse to sponsor a student video competition that runs from March 26 through April 20. 
 
The student whose video is judged to be the best will win an Apple iPad, and the runners-up will receive an iPod Touch and an iTunes gift card. The winning video will also be featured on the website for the NC Department of Justice.
 
More details including the contest rules and application are available at www.ncdoj.gov. Information on the contest has also been sent to high school principals statewide.

  Contact:  Noelle Talley, (919) 716-6413