Canada just got its first opioid vending machine

A brand new kind of vending machine was just installed in Vancouver — a vending machine that dispenses a safe supply of opioids. 

It's the result of the My Safe Project, which aims to prevent drug users from taking lethal doses of opioids that are often laced with deadly fentanyl.

According to a video posted to Twitter by the My Safe Project, there have been more than 5,000 overdose deaths in B.C. since 2015. 

The machine, which provides the right dose of drugs by reading the vein pattern on the palm of someone's hand using biometrics, will hopefully save lives. 

It's only in the very beginning stages, and at the moment only selected participants can use the machine.

"Selected participants will undergo a full medical and social assessment which includes current drug use patterns and their risk of overdose," reads a tweet on the My Safe Project Twitter page. 

"Participants will consent to having their prescriptions accessed through this secure dispensing storage machine, equivalent to an individualized storage locker."

Chosen participants will be regular opioid users, have a history of overdose, and have fentanyl detected in their urine. They will be provided with regular follow-ups with a health professional and an opportunity to connect with staff at any time.

Once participants have undergone a thorough evaluation, hydromorphone tablets will be prescribed by a physician and prepared by a selected pharmacy. They'll be pre-packaged to fit into the MySafe machine.

The pharmacy will then deliver the medications to the site and sign them over to medical staff for placement in the machine — only staff will be able to access the medications prior to dispensing.

Participants will then have their first dose as well as any changes in dosing observed to ensure tolerance, and the maximum dose is 16 x 8 mg dilaudid tablets per day dispensed on a regulated schedule.

The machine is located next to an Overdose Prevention Site. 

"This is a low-barrier way to access a safer opioid supply and offers a model that is scalable, relatively inexpensive, and is designed to open up the safe supply option for many people who would not be able or willing to enroll in a medically supervised program," reads another tweet on the project's Twitter page. 

"With the launch of Canada's first safe supply automatic dispensing machine, MySafe provides people with a secure, regulated and safer supply of opioids to prevent overdoses and overdose deaths."

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