- Associated Press - Sunday, March 16, 2014

MAXTON, N.C. (AP) - Dozens of North Carolina cities are working to cut down on prescription drug abuse by encouraging people to properly dispose of old drugs they don’t need.

Operation Medicine Drop events start this weekend and run throughout the coming week. Drop-off sites on Sunday include the police department in Maxton, a Rose’s Department Store in Roanoke Rapids, and a Zaxby’s restaurant in Graham.

The partnership of Safe Kids North Carolina within the state Insurance Department, the State Bureau of Investigation, Riverkeepers Alliance and other agencies has collected and destroyed almost 53 million doses of medications over the past four years.

North Carolina’s health agency says annual unintentional poisoning deaths have almost tripled since 1999 to 1,104 in 2012. Nine out of 10 cases involve drugs or medications.