Tamper-proof pill bottle could help curb prescription painkiller misuse, abuse

You can whack it with a hammer, attack it with a drill, even stab it with a screwdriver. But try as you might, you won’t be able to tamper with a high-tech pill dispenser designed by mechanical engineering students at Johns Hopkins University’s Whiting School of Engineering.

Which is exactly the point.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated that drug overdoses kill more than 44,000 Americans annually, including more than 16,000 deaths from prescription drugs. Federal officials also say that at least one in 20 Americans ingests drugs prescribed for someone else. Concerned about these alarming statistics, experts at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Center for Injury Research and Policy challenged a team of Johns Hopkins senior mechanical engineers to design and build an anti-theft and tamper-resistant pill dispenser.

‘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.

Classmates Megan Carney, Joseph Hajj, Joseph Heaney, and Welles Sakmar