Operation Medicine Drop numbers are up

James HowellStaff

March 17, 2013

Ashe Services for the Aging hosted 2013’s first Operation Medicine Drop event on Friday, allowing seniors to drop off expired and excessive medications so they can be disposed of properly.

“It’s no stress, you bring them in and drop them off…no questions asked,” said Barbara McCoy, a volunteer from Ashe County Safe Kids. “It’s a good way for people to get rid of their medications legally.”

Aside from medications, seniors could also drop off any medical equipment, supplies or devices, like syringes.

“We’ve had really good results,” said McCoy.

During the 2012 year, the Ashe County Sheriff’s Office, National Committee for the New River and the County of Ashe held three Operation Medicine Drop events and launched a drop box program that collected 87,481 dosage units of different medications.

The 2012 total of 87,481 dosage units is much larger than the 2011 total of 31,054 and 2010 total of 40,346, according to information from the ACSO.

According to McCoy, there are two or three Operation Medicine Drop events per year.

The June medicine drop was the largest in 2012, housing a booth at Food Lion, Ingles and Warrensville Drug, according to information from the sheriff’s office. Both the March & October medicine drops in 2012 were held at Ashe Services for the Aging, making the drop more accessible to seniors.

“We’re glad to host it,” said Louise Caudill. She called it a “good event.”

During those three drops in 2012, a total of 55,107 dosage units of medication were collected, breaking all previous records, according to the sheriff’s office.

According to Nancy Kautz, a volunteer from the Ashe County Health Council, the medicine drop helps keep medications out of the water supply. The drop is also meant to prevent accidental poisonings, especially with children.

“We hope the events help keep medicines out of the hands of the irresponsible and out of the rivers,” said a press release from the ACSO.

To further the Operation Medicine Drop program, the Ashe County Sheriff’s Office established a medicine drop box program on Aug. 1, which allows anyone to dispose of their unused medications by visiting the second floor of the Ashe County Sheriff’s Office from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

From Aug. 1 through Dec. 31, a total of 32,374 dosage units were collected through the drop box program, according to a press release from the ASCO.

Once the medications are collected, they are shipped to Gerdau Ameristeel located in Charlotte. Gerdau Ameristeel disposes of the medications by dropping them into a vat of molton steel, which is later incorporated into steel products like girders, according to Phil Howell from the ACSO.

Operation Medicine Drop is an effort coordinated by the Ashe County Sheriff’s Office, National Committee for the New River, County of Ashe, North Carolina Department of Insurance, Safe Kids North Carolina, the State Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Drug Enforcement agency and other local groups.