Sometimes, too much of a substance that's supposed to help can cause serious harm.
Drug overdose death rates in the United States have more than tripled since 1990, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Just in 2008, for example, the CDC says there were 14,800 deaths in the U.S. caused by prescription painkillers.
Considering this problem, a group of Brigham Young University (BYU) students reimagined the prescription drug bottle and have developed a high-tech regulator.
Their invention, called Med Vault, basically lets a pharmacist give instructions to the bottle, which then dispenses painkillers accordingly to the patient. Via a USB connection, a pharmacist can use special software to load the pills and program how many can be dispensed per day.
"They can dispense one pill every four hours or two pills every 24 hours or whatever the doctor prescribes," said BYU senior Madison Clark, the team's electrical engineer.
It's a pretty complex design that the team claims is tamper-resistant and break-resistant. The Med Vault requires users to put in an access code to get a pill, making it harder for the drugs to get into the wrong hands (e.g., a small child).
"The physical requirements of the shell and of the material properties are such that you can't take a hammer to it and break it open," Clark told Mashable.