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April 13, 2022

Narcan ‘vending machines’ coming to a facility near you

Credit: WMAR, Rushaad Hayward

BALTIMORE — The opioid epidemic is something that’s plagued America for years. Maryland is taking steps to cut these overdose numbers down by unveiling their new Narcan “vending machines.”

The United States had close to 110,000 people die in 2021 due to opioid overdoses. There have been a spike in overdoses in Baltimore City with an average of 30 plus overdoses per day. However, all of these cases are not fatal.

The technology comes from FFF Enterprises, a nationwide wholesaler of specialty pharmaceuticals. The company is one of the largest distributors of influenza vaccines and plasma products as well.

This will be the first in a long line of “vending machines.”

Patrick Schmidt, CEO of FFF Enterprises, says the vending machines don’t work like an average vending machine.

“It’s connected to Google Cloud and it connects via cellular modem. It knows all the inventory that’s inside in real time, monitors the temperature and makes sure the drugs are taken care of,” said Schmidt.

The name vending machine is a bit misleading because it acts more like a smart cabinet. According to Schmidt, the plan is to place these devices in areas that have outbreaks.

People won’t be able to walk up to these machines and grab some Narcan, as they’ll only be in specific distribution centers around the U.S. These centers will have contact with people who are using illicit drugs and to be able to encourage them to carry Narcan.

Schmidt admits that the technology wasn’t designed for Narcan distribution, but they realized it can save lives.

“We’re able to respond very quickly, we have the visibility into the inventory and we can move the inventory to where it’s needed most,” said Schmidt.

The technology is expected to make an immediate impact, since the company has the technology to deploy.

Having the Narcan available is a good first step said congressman David Trone, who was the keynote speaker at the unveiling event.

“This is a good step to have this life saving drug there and made available to people that need it,” said Trone.

Narcan is very easy administer for those that are unfamiliar with it. It acts like a nasal spray, where one would simply spray it up a person’s nostrils.

Although it’s only in Washington County right now, the goal is to distribute it around the country. Narcan has been saving lives every day in America and this new technology will allow for the spray to have greater availability.