More Montana Pharmacies to Get Drug Collection Boxes

The 38-gallon boxes and starter packs of liners are being offered at no cost to retail pharmacies and hospitals and clinics with on-site pharmacies to be used to collect and then dispose of prescription drugs.

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock recently announced the state will use a $730,000 federal grant to help reduce misuse and abuse of prescription drugs by increasing the number of communities with medication collection boxes. State health officials are working with the Board of Pharmacy and the Montana Pharmacy Association to distribute 212 metal collection boxes at no cost to local pharmacies.

"One of the best ways to address opioid abuse is through the safe, convenient, and proper disposal of unused medications," Bullock said. "This is a terrific opportunity, and we're pleased to be partnering with pharmacies across the state to distribute the collection boxes in the coming weeks."

The 38-gallon boxes and starter packs of liners are being offered at no cost to retail pharmacies and hospitals and clinics with on-site pharmacies to be used to collect and then dispose of prescription drugs. The funding is part of a grant awarded to the Department of Public Health and Human Services. The department's director, Sheila Hogan, said that according to the Journal of the American Medical Association, between 60 percent and 92 percent of patients nationwide don't finish their painkillers and fewer than 10 percent dispose of them safely. Sixty percent of patients keep partially completed opioid prescriptions "for later," while more than 80 percent don't store their narcotic painkillers in a locked cabinet.

DPHHS, the Board of Pharmacy, and the Montana Pharmacy Association are working to identify pharmacies that are interested in participating. "We are committed to protecting the health of Montanans," said pharmacist Tony King of Geneva Woods Pharmacy, a member of the Board of Pharmacy. "We know that prescription drug abuse continues to be a serious issue in Montana, and we are proud to partner with DPHHS on this important project."

He said the additional collection boxes will be put to good use by pharmacies because there are currently only 22 of them located in the approximately 360 pharmacies in Montana. The collection boxes are from MedSafe Medication Disposal Systems with related inner receptacle liners from Sharps Compliance, Inc. The retail purchase price of each box is $3,445.

To be eligible, a pharmacy has to register as a Drug Enforcement Administration collector agent ensuring adherence to the collector guidelines. King said the registration process is very simple, and there's no cost. "I have operated a collection box for two years, and it has been a great success," he said.

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