Opioids to be dispensed via vending machine on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside

Dr. Mark Tyndall says vending machine will help prevent overdoses from fentanyl-laced street drugs

A doctor, whose focus is on public health, says he will soon dispense opioids through a vending machine in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside to prevent overdoses from fentanyl-laced street drugs.

Dr. Mark Tyndall says the machine that’s been created in Toronto would scan a patient’s hand for identification, then dispense a pre-programmed number of hydromorphone pills – a substitute for heroin.

Tyndall, who’s also a professor of medicine at UBC, says the pills cost about 35 cents each and focus groups with drug users have suggested most people would need about 10 to 16 pills a day.

He says the pain medication sold under the brand name Dilaudid is typically crushed and injected by people who may have previously used OxyContin, before that drug was made more difficult to tamper with following multiple overdose deaths.

Hydromorphone is currently provided through a limited number of clinics in Vancouver offering supervised injection to those experiencing severe substance use disorder.

READ MORE: Overdose response team in Vancouver shows promising results

However, Tyndall says rigid requirements that make people return multiple times a day are impractical and expensive compared with his plan, which could be in the works within a few weeks.

The Canadian Press

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