Bryan Cohen Apr. 1, 2013, 6:46pm

RALEIGH, N.C. (Legal Newsline) - North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper announced on Thursday that a pill collection drive meant to reduce prescription drug abuse successfully collected more than 12 million doses of old over-the-counter and prescription drugs.

Operation Medicine Drop encourages people to properly dispose of old drugs that are no longer needed. Cooper worked with Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of North Carolina, the Riverkeepers of North Carolina, Safe Kids North Carolina, the State Bureau of Investigation and local law enforcement agencies to sponsor more than 250 prescription drug take back events during National Poison Prevention Week between March 17 and March 23.

"North Carolinians cleaned out their medicine cabinets and turned in more unused prescription drugs than ever before," Cooper said. "This is a great way to help keep potentially dangerous prescription drugs away from those who could abuse them."

There was a significant increase in the collection of Fentanyl patches, which can be deadly painkillers when abused, Cooper says. Other items of interest include multiple packages of children medicines with directions written in Hindi, hydrocodone and morphine prescribed in 1958, and controlled substances that were prescribed to a dog.

Operation Medicine Drop keeps drugs from being misused or abused and prevents chemicals from ending up in the water supply when they are flushed down the toilet. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fatal drug overdoses are the leading cause of death due to unintentional injury.

The drugs will be delivered to a North Carolina Division of Environment and Natural Resources-approved incinerator in Alamance County for safe destruction.

Cooper's office is also partnering with several offices to sponsor a student video competition running through April 26 to create brief public service announcement videos on teen prescription drug abuse.

"Prescription drug abuse is a silent killer that's on the rise, especially among young people," Cooper said. "We're asking students to help us fight this epidemic."

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