SOMERSET – Operation UNITE’s “Pill Dragon” will return to Somerset on Friday, April 1.

Citizens are urged to bring all unused, unwanted or out-of-date medicines to The Center For Rural Development between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. as part of PRIDE’s third annual Clean Sweep of U.S. 27.

This free “Clean Your Medicine Cabinet Out Day” program is part of a months-long effort – called “Accidental Dealer” – by the Pulaski County UNITE Coalition to raise awareness about the dangers posed by prescription and over-the-counter medications kept in the home.

All pills will be fed to the “Pill Dragon,” a mobile incinerator sponsored by UNITE, Eastern Kentucky PRIDE and the Kentucky Army National Guard.

Nearly 28,000 pills were destroyed when the Pill Dragon last visited Somerset on November 9.

The Pill Dragon is designed to keep medications from being disposed of in landfills or by flushing them down the toilet. Both methods have the potential to harm the environment.

Ridding the home of unneeded medications also reduces the potential for theft and experimentation with drugs.

Some studies have shown that 90 percent of teens that try prescription drugs for the first time turn to the family medicine cabinet or to a friend’s family for prescription and over-the-counter medications – making them an Accidental Dealer.

Aside from the fact that taking or giving away medicine that is not prescribed to you is illegal, even at small doses the potential exists for serious health effects – including death. This is especially worrisome in southern and eastern Kentucky, where the average age of first-time use is age 11.

Hundreds of volunteers are expected to take to the streets of Somerset Friday for the PRIDE clean-up project. In addition to U.S. 27, cleanups will be conducted along major downtown roadways including College Street, East Mt. Vernon and Crab Orchard.