Dispension’s biometric opioid vending machines ready for Canada-wide roll out
Opioid overdoses have claimed over 15,000 Canadian lives since January 2016, according to the company announcement. Dispension has developed the Verified Identity Dispenser (VID), a platform that leverages access control software, advanced biometrics and tamper-resistant hardware to provide a contactless experience.
The device was used in the MySafe project pilot, the first to involve Opioid Dispensing Kiosks and to use biometric palm vein scanning technology to verify a registered user’s identity. Once the user is authenticated, the machine will dispense the regulated product. The vending machine features a touch screen and Fujitsu’s PalmSecure technology, which scans the user’s hand vein biometrics for identification before releasing a certain number of hydromorphone pills to replace heroin, and a camera that patients can use to contact healthcare clinics. An average of 10 to 16 pills are provided per day.
“Dispension is committed to protecting the health and safety of Canadians and we are proud to be doing so from right here in Dartmouth,” said Corey Yantha, president and CEO of Dispension, in a prepared statement. “We are grateful to the Government of Canada and in particular, ACOA, for supporting our production operations with scale up and productivity funding. This has allowed us to expand the MySafe program to provide access to safe prescribed medication and reduce deaths caused by toxic street drugs.”
The company will receive $500,000 in repayable support, announced Darren Fisher, Parliamentary Secretary to Canada’s Minister of Health and Member of Parliament for Dartmouth – Cole Harbour. Support is offered under the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency’s (ACOA) Regional Economic Growth through Innovation (REGI) program to expand to other communities.
“Canadians are compassionate about the plight of the country’s most vulnerable people and know the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the risk to their safety and wellbeing,” said PS Fisher in the announcement. “Dispension’s secure, contactless technology is especially important during the current health crisis. Our government is pleased to work with businesses and non-profit organizations to reduce harm to individuals and communities and improve public health and safety.”
Since December 2019, MySafe has already distributed more than 3,750 packets of Schedule 1 narcotics. The program has received national support from Halifax Mayor Mike Savage, Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart, the Vancouver Police Department, the Assembly of First Nations and major harm reduction providers. Future deployment is planned for Dartmouth, NS, London, ON, and Vancouver and Victoria, BC in mid-August.
“I believe the MySafe project, which permits access to prescribed doses of hydromorphone, might provide a safer alternative to illicit street drugs,” said Mike Savage, Mayor of Halifax, in the announcement. “It has already done so with success in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Establishing a network of MySafe secure dispensing systems could enable communities to explore additional harm reduction models, which is in alignment with the Opioid Use and Overdose Framework’s mandate and municipal public safety priorities.”
An additional 15 units are in production to cover national expansion, and the company is also looking into international pharmaceutical, harm reduction, eldercare, medical and recreational cannabis, and alcohol dispensing markets.