Health Canada has awarded a $3.49 million grant to the MySafe Society to help fund the roll-out of five opioid dispensers manufactured by Dartmouth-based Dispension Industries.

The federal Health Department said this week it would make the funding through its Substance Use and Addictions Program to help prevent drug overdoses. The MySafe Society initiated a program in 2019 that would use Dispension’s technology to release controlled amounts of pharmaceutical-grade drugs to eligible participants, now it is expanding the program.

“We’re excited by the opportunity to validate our technology in the marketplace, particularly as the driving force behind this very important life-saving initiative,” said Dispension Co-Founder and CEO Corey Yantha in a statement. “Canada continues to struggle with historic rates of fatal overdoses and MySafe is the most scalable way of addressing the overdose crisis head on.”

Yantha and brothers Matthew and Brad Michaelis founded Dispension to manufacture MySafe kiosks, which are special dispensing machines that will only provide opioids to specific individuals who are identified by a biometric scan of their hands.

The MySafe Society ran a pilot in 2019 that tested the system in Vancouver.

The five new MySafe kiosks will be installed in various locations in Dartmouth, London, Ontario, and Vancouver and Victoria in British Columbia. The existing Vancouver kiosk will be replaced with two new ones.

Last summer, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency lent Dispension $500,000 to help fund the manufacture of MySafe machines. The Dartmouth company is now attending the Telus L-Spark Medtech Accelerator in Ottawa. 

“In addition to directly addressing the toxic drug supply, MySafe greatly reduces the need to acquire money and drugs through the informal economy, which is life-changing for people caught up in the desperate pursuit of procuring drugs,” said Dr. Mark Tyndall, Executive Director of the MySafe Society.

“Early results of the MySafe Project evaluation indicate that all participants were able to decrease their use of street opioids and most reduced their engagement in the street economy.”