Mechanical engineering students at John Hopkins University built a high-tech tamper-resistant pill dispenser that will limit the number of pills an individual can draw from it at a time.
The device will only dispense medication to the patient that was prescribed by the pharmacists. It is made of metal and has a heavy duty lock on the bottom that only the prescribing pharmacist can open.
"We needed this personal pill 'safe' to have tamper resistance, personal identification capabilities, and a locking mechanism that allows only a pharmacist to load the device with pills," said Kavi Bhalla, assistant professor at the university's Bloomberg School of Public Health and one of the team's mentors for the project.
The electronic prototype weighs 2.57 pounds and 9.25 inches tall. It is equipped with a fingerprint scanner to ensure that the drugs are dispensed only to the prescribed patient.
Once the finger is scanned, the device checks whether it is appropriate time to release the medication, and once confirmed the mechanism rotates and pops out a pill.
"The device starts to work when the patient scans in his or her fingerprint. This rotates a disc, which picks up a pill from a loaded cartridge and empties it into the exit channel. The pill falls down the channel and lands on a platform where the patient can see that the pill has been dispensed. The patient then tilts the device and catches the pill in their hand," explains Megan Carney.