Care for your controlled drugs – An evolution

Carrying controlled drugs in a pre-hospital setting is a recipe for accidental vial breakages.

In January 2014 the weaknesses of the traditional leather and closed cell foam belt pouch were discussed: Care for your controlled drugs – a 3D printer solution.

The innovative 3D printed vial insert greatly improved vial breakages. Review of the insert’s function identified two failings: Firstly occasional vial breakage occurred; Secondly the Morphine ampules abruptly began to get stuck within the insert. The first problem seemed to arise due to downward blows onto the expose vial tops. The second problem was tracked to a change in the manufacturers label thickness only affecting the Morphine ampules that led to the vials jamming in the precisely moulded insert. 

These difficulties prompted a search for solutions. The further evolution of the drug pouch followed the realisation that an insert could become the whole carriage system and protection from downward forces would be required to stop breakage. 

Evolutionary Steps

Original leather pouch with the 3D printer insert  



Wooden prototype protecting vials in up to 2m falls onto concrete




HDPE vial holder showing magnetic catches, stainless fastenings and moulded belt loops



Controlled drug carry system in use



Some of the successes of the system include: A durable non-porous material capable of wash down and disinfection; magnetic catches; silicon rubber seated vial wells for shock absorption. 

Current feedback from the austere clinical environment is that the system is working well.




2 thoughts on “Care for your controlled drugs – An evolution

  1. HDPE sourced from local plastic supplier as a block. Cut by drop saw and vial wells by drill press. Moulded belt clip by “BladeTec” who manufacture a wide array of attachment options. Silicon rubber well seats using “Sugru”. Stainless components – hinges and screws by local hardware supplier. Manufacture time for 5x vial holders – about one day. I am not aware of a commercial manufacturer of anything similar. I decided not to 3D print the latest design due to the simplicity of working the above materials and the relatively long time to print on a printer that is not mine. The anticipated advantage of a 3D printed version would be a lighter, denser plastic and the ability to incorporate both the clip and hinge from the same material.

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