FORT BRAGG, N.C. - Imagine having numerous bottles of prescription medicine around your house that you've been meaning to dispose of but never had a chance to. Now suddenly, you find your 3 year old lying lifeless by the bathroom, next to an open bottle of your old pills.

To help prevent this scenario from happening, members of Fort Bragg and surrounding communities who have medicine that has expired or is no longer needed, can dispose of it, free of charge Saturday as the post sponsors Operation Medicine Drop.

The event is scheduled to take place at the North Post Exchange, beginning at 9 a.m. and lasting until 2 p.m. According to assistant fire chief Mark Melvin, all medicines will be accepted amnesty-free as the event is set to coincide with National Poison week, March 20 through Saturday.
"Operation Medicine Drop is a statewide initiative that we work in conjunction with Safe Kids -North Carolina and it's an opportunity for people to bring in unwanted medication, whether it be prescription or over-the-counter materials," Melvin said.

He explained that the reason behind the operation is to help prevent accidental poisoning from children getting into medicine cabinets.

"It also provides an opportunity for people to discard their medicine in a proper way versus just putting them in the trash of flushing them down the toilet, where they may be released into the water system," Melvin added.

Local community members are invited to visit the North Post PX, where Melvin said the Directorate of Emergency Services will have personnel set up to accept the medicine. He said a licensed pharmacist will also be on site to ensure that the medicine is disposed of properly.

"On the 26th, we'll be set up in the parking lot at the PX and there will be signage and cones that will isolate our area," he said. "It's a complete amnesty drop and we'll take the prescription bottles and those that are purchased over-the-counter."

Melvin said those who decide to turn in their medicine may scratch off or mark through their name on the prescription bottles, but if possible, he said they should leave the name of the medicine intact.
"If you're bringing it in its original bottle, leave it in the bottle," he said. "That way it helps the pharmacist to identify the type of medicine you have. He has to classify the pill so that it gets properly disposed of. Some pills cannot be incinerated and others can. It is a controlled operation and we will also accept veterinary medicine as well."

Melvin pointed out that this is the second year that the state has sponsored the operation, but it's the first year that Fort Bragg is hosting one of the drop points.

"Last year, even though we held it off post, the collection center that Fort Bragg manned, collected over 5,000 pills," he said. "We collected a little over two million in the state during that week and this year we're hoping to get more than that because last year, we had about 160 agencies that participated. At last count, we have 212 participating this year."

In addition to Safe Kids - North Carolina, the initiative is also a partnership with the North Carolina Department of Insurance, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, the State Bureau of Investigations and other local agencies throughout the state.

According to OMD talking points, the operation is part of a grassroots coalition that includes the Riverkeepers of North Carolina, community anti-drug coalitions and local agencies that are exploring issues surrounding safe medication disposal.

National Poison Week began Monday and will conclude Saturday. Fayetteville and other surrounding communities also held similar operations throughout the week.

Operation Medicine Drop facts and figures
The average North Carolinian fills 14 prescriptions annually, which adds up to over 127 million prescriptions filled statewide each year. Studies show that as much as 40 percent of the drugs dispensed are never used.
Since 1999, approximately 4,500 North Carolina citizens have died from prescription drug poisoning.
More than 75 percent of all unintentional poisonings occur in children under five years old.
One in five teens has abused prescription stimulants and tranquilizers.
In 2004, the United States Geological Survey identified 100 different pharmaceuticals in surface water. Significant contamination is occurring in North Carolina and in over 80 percent of U.S. waterways that have been tested.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16