MedLock: Creating a Solution for the Opioid Crisis

Every 10-12 minutes, someone dies in America from an opioid overdose. Every 15 to 20 minutes, a baby is born into this world suffering from neonatal abstinence syndrome, which means the baby is suffering from opioid withdrawal as soon as it comes out of the womb. MedLock, founded by Roy Jad (Engr'22), Rishub Handa (Engr'22), Sahil Parikh (Col'22), and Aditya Narayan (Col’22), is a company striving to help combat the opioid epidemic.

MedLock is developing a pill dispenser that tracks consumption to reinforce regimen adherence and prevent diversion. The MedLock dispenser only lets one pill leave at a time and sends a timestamp to the providers where a system can analyze the data and notify the providers if there's an emergency.

Currently, there's no oversight when prescribing patients opioid medicines. "Think about it," Rishub explains, "you pick up your opioid medication at the pharmacy, you go home, and nothing is stopping you from opening up the cap and taking them all together." This design flaw is exactly what MedLock is changing. They are closing the gap in patient care by having the pills delivered in a secure dispenser. Their container is designed to notify the provider if a patient breaks into the pill bottle or attempts to dispense too many at once.

While there are other companies trying to solve the opioid crisis, MedLock is the only company that provides direct communication with health care providers. "There is this increasing trend in health care around value-based care. It's all about taking a holistic approach to the patient," Sahil explains. MedLock is the first to supplement the typical “cold medicine” techniques, that simply try to prevent overdose, with “warm medicine” techniques that provide a community of support. MedLock supplies the patient not only with a regiment adherence dispenser but also with a group of pain specialists, other pain patients, and even opioid addicts in recovery.

MedLock wants their product to be transparent. Not only does the bottle send information to the health care provider, but the patient can also reach out to their provider if their pain is not being adequately managed through MedLock’s platform.

"Every single day we learn, and we might change our product a couple of times within a day," Sahil says. "We realized how complicated the health care system is, and we are trying to find the niche where we can give patients the opportunity to talk and interact with their provider like we want them to." 

Over the next few weeks in the i.Lab, the MedLock team is working on building their minimal viable product, including the patient portal and the pill dispenser that can communicate with their servers. They are also working on a provisional patent for their device.