More than 15,000 Canadians have died of an opioid-related overdose since January 2016. Dispension is transforming the distribution of regulated products with an integrated platform that combines industry-leading software, advanced biometrics, and tamper-resistant hardware. The Dartmouth start-up’s Verified Identity Dispenser (VID) provides a secure, convenient, and touchless experience, at low operating costs.
Dispension’s device, which is similar to an ATM, was used in the pilot MySafe Project in December 2019 in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. MySafe – the world’s first Opioid Dispensing kiosk – helps combat the opioid overdose crisis through a safe drug supply harm reduction program. The VID is equipped with biometric palm vein scanning technology that enables accurate verification of a registered user’s identity before allowing them access to the regulated products stored safely inside.Connecting transactions to a specific user not only ensures the security of supply, it also allows for real-time feedback and provides invaluable data for scientific and medical research.
Today, Darren Fisher, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health and Member of Parliament for Dartmouth – Cole Harbour, announced $500,000 in repayable support to Dispension. This support is being provided through the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency’s (ACOA) Regional Economic Growth through Innovation (REGI) program to build VID units for MySafe Project expansion into additional communities.
Parliamentary Secretary Fisher made the announcement on behalf of the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for ACOA.
“Canadians are compassionate about the plight of the country’s most vulnerable people and know the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the risk to their safety and wellbeing,” said PS Fisher. “Dispension’s secure, contactless technology is especially important during the current health crisis. Our government is pleased to work with businesses and non-profit organizations to reduce harm to individuals and communities and improve public health and safety.”
Dispension is the technology provider for not-for-profit MySafe, which has dispensed over 3,750 packets of Schedule 1 narcotics since launch in December 2019. Halifax Mayor Mike Savage, Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart, the Vancouver Police Department, the Assembly of First Nations, and major harm reduction providers across the country support the program’s expansion. Five new MySafe VID’s are planned for deployment in mid-August in Dartmouth, NS, London, ON, and Vancouver and Victoria, BC.
“I believe the MySafe project, which permits access to prescribed doses of hydromorphone, might provide a safer alternative to illicit street drugs,” said Mike Savage, Mayor of Halifax. “It has already done so with success in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Establishing a network of MySafe secure dispensing systems could enable communities to explore additional harm reduction models, which is in alignment with the Opioid Use and Overdose Framework’s mandate and municipal public safety priorities.”
Dispension is building 15 additional units for the next phase of MySafe expansion and is filling orders for the 800-lb steel machines that can be customized to distribute any regulated product. The company is targeting international pharmaceutical, harm reduction, eldercare, medical/recreational cannabis, and alcohol dispensing markets.
“Dispension is committed to protecting the health and safety of Canadians and we are proud to be doing so from right here in Dartmouth,” said Corey Yantha, President and CEO of Dispension. “We are grateful to the Government of Canada and in particular, ACOA, for supporting our production operations with scale up and productivity funding. This has allowed us to expand the MySafe program to provide access to safe prescribed medication and reduce deaths caused by toxic street drugs.”