The opioid epidemic is one of the deadliest problems facing the U.S. today. Through the development of new pain management devices, medtech could be a leader in solving the crisis.
The prescription opioid overdose crisis in America didn’t start until the late 1990s, when pharmaceutical companies touted prescription painkillers that weren’t supposed to be addictive. As a result, medical professionals more frequently prescribed opioid painkillers.
Since then, opioid-related deaths have seen a steady increase. From 2000 to 2014, nearly half a million Americans died from a drug overdose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 50,000 people died from a drug overdose in 2015. Of those deaths, 33,000 were opioid-related.
The Council of Economic Advisers reports that the opioid crisis had an economic cost of $504 billion in 2015, and prescription opioid misuse increased healthcare and substance abuse treatment costs by $29.4 billion.
“A key solution to the current national crisis of opioid abuse is providing access to alternative pain management solutions for the people who need them,” said Shaye Mandle, CEO of the Minnesota-based Medical Alley Association. “The medical device industry currently delivers many non-opioid alternatives and can play a leadership role in addressing this epidemic.”
Medtech could play a role in helping to curb the opioid epidemic with new technologies being developed to treat chronic pain and reduce opioid prescription abuse. There are hundreds of devices and technologies currently on the market that are designed to reduce pain. These include technologies that treat acute pain, technologies that treat chronic pain, devices for medication management and pill dispensing, diagnostic tests that can monitor overdose risk, and technologies that monitor withdrawal and prevent overdoses.
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