VANCOUVER – A doctor who focuses on public health says he will soon be distributing opioids through a vending machine in downtown Eastside in Vancouver to prevent overdose from street drugs linked to fentanyl.
Dr. Mark Tyndall states that the machine created in Toronto will scan a patient's hand for identification before dispensing a pre-programmed number of hydromorphone pills that replace heroin.
Tyndall, who is also a professor of medicine at the University of BC, says the pills cost about 35 cents each and that focus groups with drug addicts have suggested that most people would need around 10-16 pills per day.
He says that painkillers sold under the Dilaudid brand are generally crushed and injected by people who may have previously used OxyContin, before the drug was made more difficult to tamper with due to multiple fatal overdoses.
Hydromorphone is currently provided through a limited number of Vancouver clinics offering supervised injection to those suffering from a serious substance use disorder.
However, Tyndall states that the strict requirements for people to come back several times a day are impractical and expensive compared to his plan, which could be in the pipeline within a few weeks as a way to contain overdose deaths.