San Mateo, CA Indian medical device manufacturer DyAnsys recently announced the U.S. FDA approval of its first-in-class non-drug treatment for opioid withdrawal. It isn’t an ingested, inhaled or injected compound — instead, Drug Relief® is a small wearable electrical nerve field stimulator that has been shown to alleviate symptoms of opioid detox without the use of narcotics.

The battery-operated wearable attaches behind a patient’s ear via adhesive and works by delivering pulses thru tiny needles embedded in a patient’s ear. This neurostimulation is thought to impact the release of various neurotransmitters in the brain, interrupting the processes that lead to many opioid withdrawal effects. Within 30-60 minutes of starting treatment, patients have demonstrated significant reductions in detox symptoms including anxiety, nausea, opiate cravings and several others. The device can administer treatment for up to five days, and according to the manufacturer, this relief comes without any known side effects or any propensity for addiction. 

Why This Matters—

Clearly, our society is in desperate need of new solutions to address the opioid crisis. In 2016 alone overdoses in the U.S. claimed more American lives than the entire Vietnam War, and the real-world impact of the epidemic reaches far beyond a single statistic. Rising costs and difficulty obtaining opioids have driven addicts to other elicit substances, including heroin. Increases in intravenous drug use are leading to rises in hepatitis-C and deadly bacterial infections. Current estimates suggest that nearly $200 billion are needed to address the Opioid Crisis in the U.S. alone. Any promising new entrant is a welcome addition to the fight. 

But in many ways, this announcement is also another drop in the bucket of countless new non-traditional players entering the healthcare space. From Apple stepping into electronic health records (EHR) to next-gen prescription video games from Akili, many of the newsworthy breakthroughs in our industry have come from nonconventional players. For veteran marketers in our industry, these shifts suggest that we must reevaluate our approaches to everything from messaging to positioning to compete with non-pharmaceutical solutions. In the coming year, be on the lookout for more radical healthcare challenges to find equally radical solutions.


About the Author:

Drew Beck has spent his entire career in healthcare — from direct patient care as an EMT in college to countless roles in pharma sales and global marketing for leading life science companies including Eli Lilly & Co. and GlaxoSmithKline. He is currently a leader on the Syneos Health Insights & Innovation team, a group charged with leveraging deep expertise in virtual collaboration, behavioral science, trends-based-innovation, custom research and global marketing insights.