Montana Attorney General Tim Fox announced the availability of $20,000 in grant funding through the Montana Pharmacy Safe Medication Disposal Initiative on Thursday at the Florence Community Pharmacy.   

Fox praised the owners of the small family-owned pharmacy for being proactive in becoming one of the first pharmacies in Montana to take advantage of the new program.

"When the Federal Drug Enforcement Agency changed its regulations in October of 2014 to allow local pharmacies to become prescription drug disposal locations, Florence Pharmacy owners and registered pharmacists Paul Brand and his wife Lavonne immediately got to work to  make that happen here.," Fox said.

Brand described the secure disposal unit that sits prominently in his small store in Florence.

"It's double locked, with the ability to triple lock it," Brand said. "We put a new liner with a serial number in it and as soon as it's full we seal it and we package it for shipping. Two employees have to be present to sign at each step. When UPS picks it up we have to sign for it, and we can track it to know when its been disposed."

Brand said if all pharmacies in Montana would join in the effort, the problems with misuse of prescription drugs would be vastly diminished.

"We had done some research, and there are 266 community pharmacies in Montana," he said. "If everybody had done this already, we would have already collected about four tons of unused medications, so the potential impact is huge."

The Attorney General’s Office will award up to ten grants of $2,000 each to selected pharmacy applicants.

All Montana pharmacies are welcome to apply for this grant program, even if they already have a prescription medication disposal setup in place.  There is no restriction on or requirement for the size of the pharmacy; both independent and chain pharmacies are welcome to apply, as are community pharmacies and hospital pharmacies.

Grant recipients can use the funding to pay for the purchase of a permanent collection box, signage, destruction of collected materials, advertising the program, or any other medication disposal related expense.

The grant application and a ‘frequently asked questions’ document can be found on the Attorney General’s website.

Consumers wishing to safely dispose of their prescription medications can find a law enforcement location in Montana with a drug take-back box here.