Biometric opioid vending machines may solve Vancouver’s overdose crisis

A Harvard-trained doctor and professor of medicine living in Vancouver believes biometrics-controlled vending machines that dispense opioids could decrease the number of drug-related deaths in North America, according to CTV News Vancouver.

With extensive expertise in public health gained through his AIDS-related work in Kenya, Dr. Mark Tyndall wants to install an opioid vending machine in the Downtown Eastside neighborhood of Vancouver to reduce the number of overdoses from drugs mixed with fentanyl.

According to Wired, the number of drug-related deaths in the city has increased six times in the past ten years, with most deaths occurring in the Downtown Eastside.

The vending machine was designed in Toronto and features a touch screen and Fujitsu’s PalmSecure technology that scans the user’s hand vein biometrics for identification before releasing “a pre-programmed number of hydromorphone pills that are a substitute for heroin.” An average of 10 to 16 pills would be necessary per day. It also comes equipped with a camera that patients can use to contact healthcare clinics.

Dr. Tyndall claims his project would not only save lives by fighting the overdose crisis, but it would also help save the health-care system thousands of dollars.

Canada is not the only country where doctors are looking into biometric-enabled dispensers. A number of programs in the UK are introducing biometric fingerprinting technology to distribute medication or test for drug use. A biometric medication control device from Intent Solutions is used in a Kentucky hepatitis C program. In 2017, Intent Solutions’ biometrics-secured pill dispensation device, TAD, was used in a pilot project to track how patients with a substance abuse disorder comply with medication protocols.

In 2018, Dispension Industries Incorporated became the exclusive Canadian distributor of American Green’s Verified Identity Dispenser, developed for the safe and secure management of regulated products, including cannabis products and pharmaceuticals.

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