Colorado-based Safe Rx creates secure medicine bottle to curb teen drug use

'Locking Prescription Vials' look like bike locks
Posted at 11:41 PM, Aug 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-23 01:46:05-04

GREENWOOD VILLAGE, Colo. — A Colorado company is trying to further childproof the childproof medicine bottle.

Safe Rx, based in Greenwood Village, is partnering with Wheat Ridge-based Rx Plus Pharmacies to test a bottle that's extra secure.

"This is what we call an LPV, which is a 'locking prescription vial,'" said Safe Rx President and CEO Milton Cohen. "This is an idea whose time has come, but whose time really came about a decade to 15 years ago."

Cohen is announcing the pilot program at the State Capitol on Tuesday morning. His company's product has a lid that looks similar to a bike lock combination.

"All the patient has to do is line up the combination code and take the cap off and take their dose," said Cohen.

In May, the Jefferson County District Attorney's Office made an arrest and shut down a secret Facebook page called "Fly Society 420." Dozens of middle school and high school students in Jefferson and Denver Public Schools were found to be buying and selling marijuana, Adderall, OxyContin and Ecstasy on the site.

"The number one source for teen prescription drug abuse, nationally and here in Colorado, is pilfering from our parents' medicine cabinets. So this little LPV prevents pilfering," said Cohen. "If this little LPV were used nationwide, we'd prevent five million kids — five million — from initiating abuse over the next 10-year period."

Childproof pill bottles became the norm after the 1970 Poison Prevention Packaging Act required that some household substances be locked in childproof packaging.

No matter how strong the substance, prescription pills are almost always packaged in that type of container.

"We've been sending the equivalent of heroin home in containers that any 6-year-old can open," said Cohen.

The four-digit LPV code would be chosen by the patient, but the bottle would be supplied, programmed and distributed by the pharmacy.

"This is less than a dollar more a 'script," said Cohen, when asked to compare the price of the LPV to traditional childproof bottles.

He said the LVP would be offered as an up-sell to the patient during the pilot program.

The state of Illinois legislated a pilot program that started in January. Pharmacies that dispense Schedule II drugs with Hydrocodone, like OxyContin, can use a different type of LPV to fill or refill the prescription. The state funded the program with $150,000 through the end of the year.

On July 22, the President signed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act. The legislation authorized the Attorney General and Secretary of Health and Human Services to award grants to address the prescription opioid abuse and heroin use crises.

No grant money is involved in the LPV that Safe Rx is making, which is pilfer resistant and tamper evident.

"This vial is much higher impact plastic. It's been designed and engineered to require a tool to break open, so think your hammer, your hacksaw or your screwdriver to pry off the top," said Cohen. "If someone pries it off with a screwdriver, one of more of these engagement pins will fail, and then the next time the patient opens it, they'll see that visual cue and know that it's been tampered with."

Just how will anyone know whether the pill bottle is actually making a difference? Cohen said his pilot program will involve patients that agree to waive certain HIPAA privacy. They're hoping to issue these containers to patients needing Schedule II narcotics with children ages 12-25 at home.

"How can you quantify stopping pilfering versus it was never going to happen in the first place?" asked Zelinger. "We'll be able to test before and after overdoses. We'll be able to test before and after ER admissions," said Cohen.

Cohen says they'll have several factors to weigh in terms of measuring the pilot program's success.

"We'll have a lot of survey data, tremendous amount of conversion data; in terms of how many consumers are really willing to pay for this," said Cohen. "Ninety-six percent of parents with teens in the household that we've surveyed said they would prefer their controlled substance be dispensed in an LPV. Fifty-three percent of those parents actually said they would switch to a chain that dispensed an LPV."