As part of the MySafe Project, the City of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside is the site of the world’s first biometric opioid vending machine deployment.
The MySafe Project is an initiative implemented as a response to an opioid crisis that has led to more than 5,000 deaths since 2016, when a public health emergency was declared in the city. The biometric vending machine is part of a pilot project launched in December and aims to help in the fight against opioid overdoses by allowing for access to a safe drug supply, in response to calls from political leaders and health experts.
MySafe works by allowing registered opioid users — ones who have been pre-evaluated on their health-status, social situation, and drug use — access to a heroin alternative called hydromorphone on a pre-determined schedule. The drug is dispensed to the user from the 800-pound machine once the biometric scanner has read and identified the vein pattern on the palm of the user’s hand.
“You just put your hand up to the machine, it welcomes you and dispenses a drug in a little box in the bottom and you take them and leave,” said Dr. Mark Tyndall, MySafe project lead and professor at UBC’s School of Population and Public Health, in a video announcing the project.
Tyndall says that the safe supply of hydromorphone and the ability to use the vending machines on the pre-determined schedule not only keeps users safe from over-dosing on deadly fentanyl but also allows them to “break the cycle… and the hustle they go through” to obtain the illegal drugs, and lets them focus more on stabilizing their lives.
“I believe if we do allow people to stabilize their routine a little bit more by having a secure, safe place where they can get their drugs and cut into the activities they have to do to get their drugs there will be a lot more time for connection,” said Tyndall in the video.
Vancouver’s police department has voiced its support for the initiative as a way of reducing drug-related deaths in the city.
Source: Global News
January 20, 2020 – by Tony Bitzionis