MIAMI - More than 30,000 people die from prescription pill overdoses every year, but a-soon-to-be-released device could lower that number dramatically.
By next year, your prescriptions may be equipped with a black box that monitors every time you take a pill. Critics say it smacks of Big Brother, but supporters say it will help save lives.
"These are the Rolls-Royce of drugs," said Jim Harris, a former FDA investigator. "Pain medications, stimulants, sedatives, ADHD drugs, Benzodiazepines, Oxycontin."
Harris is trying to stop the pipeline of prescription drugs stolen and sold on the streets.
CDC investigators say that Pedigree has a human trail of collateral damage, a legacy of addiction that has taken the lives of some Florida men and women and thousands more across the country year after year.
Sharon Blair's daughter, Jennifer Reynolds, died from a drug overdose four years ago.
"She was at a friend's house and she died alone," said Blair.
Since then, Blair has been fighting for legislation in her daughter's name that would provide emergency intervention for alcohol or drug abuse.
"It's personal to me. I've lost my child and I've watched her slowly die over 13 years," Blair said. "No one is truly in charge of where these medications go after they leave the pharmacy."
Harris, who holds a Ph.D. in toxicology, said one invention could be the solution. It's called "Divert-X," which tracks where and when prescription pills are taken.
The device records the data in real time each time a pill is removed from the packet, much like some sort of cellular GPS.
"When it sees a dosing, it records the information and sends it to our cloud," said Harris.
In theory, Harris said it could stop mistakes, misuse and addiction.
"Our system is nameless," Harris said, for those concerned about personal privacy. "We're not focusing on the people or the paperwork or the names. We're focusing on the medications themselves."
Harris said a prototype of the device will be introduced in Florida in about 18 months. The hope is the system will stop abuse and save lives.
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