$3.5M in funding for 'vending machines' that dispense safer drugs to prevent ODs

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VANCOUVER — The federal government has provided nearly $3.5 million in funding for five vending machines that will dispense medical-grade opioids in British Columbia, Ontario and Nova Scotia, in order to prevent overdoses.

Darren Fisher, parliamentary secretary to Health Minister Patty Hajdu, says two machines are located in Vancouver, one is in Victoria and one each are in London, Ont., and Dartmouth, N.S.

The machines, called MySafe, are similar to ATMs and allow drug users at risk of overdose to get hydromorphone pills dispensed to them after their palm has been scanned.

Fisher says MySafe allows participants to access a safer drug without fear, shame and stigma, and without contact with anyone, which is all the more essential during the pandemic.

Overdose deaths have spiked during pandemic with many people using alone and a more toxic illicit drug supply.

Drug users are assessed by a doctor and a baseline urine sample is collected before they can access safer drugs through the MySafe machines, which are bolted to the floor.

This is a corrected story. A previous version said $5.6 million in funding.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021.

The Canadian Press