Operation medicine drop every day

Published 8:30 pm Tuesday, June 4, 2013



Twice a year, North Carolinians are invited to dispose of any and all medications at Operation Medicine Drop, a DEA-sanctioned event guaranteeing safe disposal of the meds. Instead of waiting around for the next big OMD event, Beaufort County residents will soon be able to get rid of their unneeded, expired or unwanted medications on demand.

The Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office Drug Unit received notification recently that the

DEA approved a permanent drop-off box that will allow people to drop off their pills and, like OMD, with no questions asked.

“It’ll be more convenient for the public,” said Capt. Russell Davenport, head of the drug unit. “They can dispose of them during sheriff’s office hours.”

DEA approval for the box came in around the same time a state grant funding the unit’s drug diversion officer, Investigator Greg Rowe, was approved for a second year running. To Davenport, that means the local statistics speak for themselves and helped seal federal approval: “once they saw our numbers on the medicine drop and the number of our diversion cases we deal with and the number of overdose deaths.”

Since the sheriff’s office has taken part in OMD, residents who missed the event have often shown up at the Market Street office, pills in hand, only to be turned away, because, by law, the agency cannot take them, Davenport said.

The Rx Drug Drop Box Program changes that. The boxes are offered through National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators, a nonprofit organization that facilitates cooperation between law enforcement, healthcare professionals, state regulatory agencies and pharmaceutical manufacturers to prevent and investigate prescription drug diversion. Through NADDI, Endo Pharmaceuticals — makers of opiate-based pain medication Percocet and Percodan, among others — offers grants to cover the cost of the box once an agency as been vetted by the DEA. The sheriff’s office has applied for one of the $800 grants.

“We have funds set aside for the box. We’re just trying to save the county money,” Davenport explained. “But we’ll get the box regardless.”

The drug unit will find out whether it has been approved for the grant in early July and once the mailbox-like receptacle comes, logistics will determine when it will be open for business. NADDI requires the box to be located inside the law enforcement facility and secured tightly to the floor, wall, or both, and preferably be within view of personnel.

No liquids or needles will be accepted, Rowe said, adding that those items will still be accepted at the OMD events.

That so many entities are working together to make it easier for the average person to dispose of medications quickly, safely and anonymously, just points to the prevalence of prescription drug abuse, according to Rowe.

Last year, roughly 1,000 people died from prescription mediation overdoses in North Carolina.