On that day from 3 to 7 p.m. in the upper parking lot at Walmart, members of several agencies will be on hand to receive unwanted or expired drugs in a safe setting.
Operation Medicine Drop is being held for the second year in Mount Airy, after the effort resulted in more than 22,000 pills being received in 2010.
“It exceeded our expectations,” said Lt. Jim Armbrister of the city police department, one of the entities that will be participating. Others include the Mount Airy Fire Department, Surry Emergency Services and the Northwest Piedmont division of Safe Kids North Carolina, which lists preventing problems from accidental ingestion of drugs among its goals.
The upcoming event will coincide with National Poison Prevention Week, to be observed from March 20-26.
Emergency Services Director John Shelton said Tuesday that 13 people have died so far this year in Surry from overdoses of prescription drugs. If the number of local residents dying at out-of-county hospitals is included, the figure balloons to 30, he said.
At a recent forum on prescription drug abuse, reducing availability of drugs to persons such as minors was seen as one way to curtail the problem.
Operation Medicine Drop is targeting medications with expired dates or which are no longer wanted, along with pills that might have been prescribed to patients who’ve died. The project also reduces the availability of controlled substances to unauthorized persons, including thieves who target medications when breaking into homes or vehicles.
Armbrister mentioned that sponsoring agencies have been trying to get the word out to area residents so they can begin stockpiling medications for the March 22 disposal. This has included distributing fliers among local pharmacies.
During the first Operation Medicine Drop on March 17, 2010, law enforcement and other personnel sat under a tent in the Walmart parking lot to receive the drugs from a nearly constant stream of participants. The collection was handled anonymously, with no questions asked or personal information compiled.
The more than 22,000 pills received were catalogued and bagged under tight security.
Armbrister said the drugs collected this month will be transported to a field office of the State Bureau of Investigation, another agency supporting Operation Medicine Drop, for disposal.