Since Vancouver declared a state of emergency in 2016, the city has been infamously known as the opioid-overdose capital of Canada. With hundreds of people dying from opioids every year, the question remains, what is being done to protect Canadians from this crisis?
In December 2019, Vancouver implemented a cutting edge program called MySafe, which uses the world’s first opioid “vending machine” to distribute prescriptions to highly-monitored users. Using biometric scanners that read user’s vein patterns, the MySafe can verify, identity and distribute a safe dosage of hydromorphone.
Addiction professionals have praised the machine for its capacity to provide a safe alternative in a non-clinical setting, and hope it will encourage safer drug habits, leading to a decline in overdose deaths. However, the MySafe machine has also been met with skeptics who believe this new unsupervised model fails to address the underlying issue of addiction.
The Vancouver pilot of MySafe is currently restricted to 5 participants, but in our evolving world of hyper-robotics, could this be the solution to the opioid crisis that cities have been waiting for?