An Operation Medicine Cabinet Collection Event is being planned for April 28, 2012 at locations throughout Southern Nevada. Detailed location information is coming soon.

Operation Medicine Cabinet to Collect Expired and Unused Prescription and Over-the-counter Drugs

>> Tuesday, January 19, 2010

With the rate of prescription and over-the-counter drug misuse and abuse on the rise in Southern Nevada, a coalition of local organizations have partnered to cut the drug supply line: home medicine cabinets.

Unused and expired medications will be collected anonymously and with no-questions-asked for safe and proper disposal during the Valley’s first-ever “Operation Medicine Cabinet.” The one-day event takes place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 20 at the Las Vegas Sports Center at 121 E. Sunset Road, located at the corner of Las Vegas Blvd. and Sunset Road.

“Our goal is to ensure that unwanted medications don’t end up in the wrong hands,” said Sgt. Paul McCollough, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department’s Narcotics Division. “People vulnerable to misuse and abuse, such as children and teens, get into medicine cabinets at home or while visiting friends and family to acquire entire bottles or just a few pills at a time. These pills are often illegally sold or traded to others.”

According to the Partnership for a Drug-Free American, prescription and over-the-counter drugs have emerged as the “party” drugs of choice for many teens. A 2008 study by the organization showed that one in five teens has tried Vicodin®, a powerful and addictive narcotic pain reliever; one in 10 has tried OxyContin®, another prescription narcotic; one in 10 has used the stimulants Ritalin® or Adderall® for nonmedical purposes and one in 11 teens has admitted to getting high on over-the-counter cough medicine.

Dr. Paul Oesterman, associate professor of pharmacy practice and faculty advisor for the University of Southern Nevada’s Drug Abuse Awareness Team, says these numbers mirror what the team has observed through their work with students in Valley schools.

“Despite some high-profile tragedies associated with prescription drugs, such as Michael Jackson and Danny Gans, most people, particularly youth, are either unaware of or not concerned with the potential chemical dangers of these drugs,” said Oesterman. “There are varying strengths, side-effects and interactions to consider when taking medications that aren’t prescribed to you by a doctor or are simply misused. Unfortunately, the result can be great bodily harm or even death.”

The rise in number of prescription drug-related deaths in Clark County over the past decade is astounding, says Clark County Coroner P. Michael Murphy, DBA.

“In 2000, the Clark County Coroner’s Office reported 171 accidental drug and medication related deaths in the county. The numbers have increased each year. In 2009 there were 397, with dozens of cases still pending final report,” said Murphy.

Bruce Gentner, founder of the Narcotics Education Foundation of Nevada and detective with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department said, “In addition to regularly cleaning out your medicine cabinet and safely disposing unwanted drugs and medications, it is also critical that the public safeguard their current medications at home, including limiting access and keeping track of quantities. It’s also important, especially for parents, to make certain that friends and relatives do the same.”

Operation Medicine Cabinet is a partnership of the University of Southern Nevada Drug Abuse Awareness Team, Narcotics Education Foundation of Nevada, Southern Nevada Water Authority, Clark County Coroner’s Office, KLAS-TV Channel 8 and Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.


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