Innovative pill bottle would self-destruct if tampered with

LEXINGTON, Ky. Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. _ And you thought getting the white caps off your typical prescription bottles was tough.

The makers of Pill Safe _ an innovative pill bottle that would self-destruct if more than the recommended dosage is taken _ say their invention could help prescription drug abusers kick the habit.

The bottle, which is currently under development at the University of Kentucky, uses rocket fuel to ignite the contents of the bottle if someone attempts to get more than the required amount of pills out at one time.

The idea is the brainchild of Dr. Robert Muncy, a retired dentist who now lives in Lexington, and Dr. Anthony McEldowney, an orthopedic surgeon currently working in West Virginia.

“We were both concerned about the abuse of prescription drugs in our society,” said Muncy, who is from Hazard in eastern Kentucky, an area that has struggled with the abuse of prescription pain medication.

The idea is simple. The pills are placed next to a fuel component. If the bottle is tampered with between dosages, the fuel ignites and the pills are turned into a “little wisp of white smoke,” according to Robert Lodder, a professor of pharmaceutical science at Kentucky.

The design is still being worked on, but the developers have formed the company R.A.M.M. LLC and have already applied for a patent. The Food and Drug Administration would also have to give its approval before the bottle could be put on the market.

Though the materials used to create Pill Safe cost less than $10, it is still expensive compared to the usual plastic bottles pills are now placed in.

“Anything that burns readily and easily presents all kinds of problems,” said Tom Kubic, executive director of the Virginia-based Pharmaceutical Security Institute. “That could involve some pretty tricky engineering. That sounds like a fairly extreme anti-counterfeiting or anti-tampering method.”

Lodder said only a small amount of fuel is used, just enough to burn the contents in the bottle. Though the pills could leave some residue on the side of the bottle, he thinks it would be very difficult for it to be removed.

Information from: Lexington Herald-Leader,