What’s New in the World of Tamper-Proof Bottles? (Does it Matter?)

One in 20 Americans are popping pills that have been prescribed for someone else. And the CDC reports that most misused prescription opioids are obtained from family members – many of them stolen from medicine cabinets.

We Need Solutions

This abuse is taking its toll – more than 16,000 Americans die from a prescription drug overdose each year. From 1997 to 2012, the rate of kids hospitalized for opioids rose 165 percent.

In response, innovators are producing what they hope to be “effective” solutions. Since manufacturers finally realized the 1980’s “tamper-proof” bottle wasn’t much of a deterrent, they’re trying again with some new designs for pill bottles.

The latest ideas include:

  • Med-O-Wheel SECURE: This locked pill box dispenses the prescribed dose of medication at pre-set times.
  • TimerCap: This cap is equipped with a built-in timer. When the bottle is opened, the timer resets.
  • Safer Lock: This pill bottle includes a four-digit combination lock in the cap.

The goals behind these devices are to keep family members accountable and keep children safe. Enough opioids are currently prescribed to put a bottle of painkillers in every household across the country. With such prevalence, opioids have become very accessible. Proponents of these solutions point out how important it is to limit that access.

Larry Twersky, CEO of TimerCap, LLC, noted, “Now you have a detection and a deterrent because people know that they can get caught by opening up your medication.”

But Do Bottles Really Work?

Not everyone is equally excited about these ideas. Skeptics claim that someone who really wants those pills can simply smash through the bottle. Others point out that a person who’s bent on getting drugs will just find them somewhere else. They say the tamper-proof bottle devices only make it more expensive – and difficult – for those who are legitimately prescribed the pills to open the bottle and get their meds.

Johns Hopkins University mechanical engineering students have developed a response to the “they’ll just smash it” argument. Their cylindrical pill-dispensing device is made from steel alloy used in aircraft landing gear. It is equipped with a fingerprint sensor, similar to those used in iPhones. The virtually impenetrable bottle ensures pills are correctly dispensed to the proper patient. But do you really want to lug around a pill bottle made from airplane parts??

As for those who note that drug seekers can get their pills elsewhere, they may be right. But is that really an excuse not to try? If tamper-proof bottles stop only some of our loved ones from developing or continuing a drug habit – or save some of our loves ones from overdose – isn’t it worth the effort?

What do you think? Are tamper-proof bottles really a good deterrent? Should we put more time, money, and resources into developing new versions of these bottles? Sound off in the comments section below.

Additional Reading:   The 5 Most Dangerous Painkiller Myths

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