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Jacksonville, NC-Operation Medicine Cabinet, a prescription drug drop-off day organized by White Oak-New Riverkeeper Alliance, will be held this Saturday in honor of National Poisoning Prevention Week. The event is designed to safely dispose of drugs and keep them out of the hands of children and out of our water.

Anyone with outdated or unused prescription drugs or over-the-counter medications is invited to drop them off at the take-back centers on Saturday March 13, 2010. Take-back locations will be available at all Food Lion stores in Onslow County from 10 am to 2 pm.

Most families have unused medications in their home which creates opportunities for abuse, illegal distribution or accidental poisoning said Anne Hardison, Director of the Coastal Coalition for Substance Abuse Prevention.

The average North Carolinian fills 14 prescriptions annually, adding up to 128,000,000 prescriptions each year. 40% of drugs dispensed are never used.

Improper disposal of medicines is an area of growing concern because these drugs are showing up in our waters said Dr. Diana Rashash of NC Cooperative Extension.

In 2004, the USGS identified 100 different pharmaceuticals in surface water, including acetaminophen, caffeine, codeine, antibiotics and warfarin (a common blood thinner). They also found that an antibiotic, a drug used to treat bipolar disorder, and nicotine had contaminated aquifers through landfill leachate.

Flushing prescription and over-the-counter drugs down the toilet or pouring them down the sink is a bad idea said Tess Sanders, White Oak-New Riverkeeper. North Carolina's waters are particularly vulnerable to impacts from pharmaceutical contamination. Studies have linked reproductive problems and lowered immune response in fish and frogs to pharmaceutical hormone exposure. In a nationwide study the occurrence of intersex fish was most prevalent (91%) in the Yadkin-Pee Dee basin.

Keeping unused medications in the home creates a dangerous opportunity for illicit drug use as well, said Chief Mike Yaniero of the Jacksonville Police Department. More than 70% of people who abuse prescription painkillers say they get them from home or right out of the medicine cabinets of family or friends.

Captain Jon Lewis of the Onslow County Sheriffs Department agreed, We have seen an increase over the last few years of illegal use and sales of prescription drugs

Operation Medicine Cabinet is just part of our ongoing efforts to stem the abuse of prescription drugs. said Chief Ed Parrish of the Swansboro Police Department.

Community partners include the White Oak-New Riverkeeper Alliance, Onslow County Sheriffs Department, Jacksonville Police Department, Swansboro Police Department, Holly Ridge Police Department, the Drug Enforcement Administration, Food Lion, Onslow County, Coastal Coalition for Substance Abuse Prevention, the City of Jacksonville, Vital Signs, Onslow County Senior Services, Oak Street Software and North Carolina Cooperative Extension.

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