The opioid crisis is a frequent topic in our office as some of our clients are working on approaches to curb the dire situation. In January 2019, the National Institute on Drug Abuse reported that more than 130 Americans per day die from opioid overdoses.

This post discusses how healthcare companies, biotech startups, and pharmaceutical companies are working to reinvent pain management, break the addiction cycle and save lives.

Developing New Therapies for Opioid Addiction

Triggr Health

Triggr works alongside a mobile device to use predictive analytics to track and anticipate user behavior and patterns, providing timely advocacy, support and behavior health therapy. This active recovery program and interventional approach is 3 times more effective than traditional treatment methods and 92% more accurate at predicting 3 days before the onset of regressive behavior.


In May of 2018, mussels from Puget Sound in Washington state tested positive for oxycodone. According to CNN, they also contained “four kinds of synthetic surfactants — the chemicals found in detergents and cleaning products — seven kinds of antibiotics, five types of antidepressants, more than one anti-diabetic drug and one chemotherapy agent.” This alarming revelation shows that drug use affects everyone through our water supply.

Biobot Analytics’ Opioid Consumption Monitoring (OCM) program measures opioids and other drugs in wastewater to estimate overall consumption in cities. Based in Cambridge, MA, this epidemiology-based startup is looking to tackle the crisis proactively and is currently looking for cities to take part in their endeavor.


Braeburn develops long-acting medicines to treat opioid addiction. Its injectable and implantable formulations are administered directly by healthcare professionals. In May 2018, the company announced in JAMA Internal Medicine positive results from its Phase 3 study of CAM2038, a buprenorphine weekly and monthly subcutaneous injection for the treatment of adults with moderate-to-severe opioid use disorder.

Opiant Pharmaceuticals

Opiant in-licensed a heroin vaccine developed by researchers at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. According to Opiant’s website, the vaccine “is designed to generate antibodies that bind heroin in the bloodstream, preventing it from entering the brain. By preventing heroin and its metabolites from binding to opioid receptors in the brain, the pleasurable and harmful effects are nullified.” So far, the vaccine has worked on mice and rats, and a human clinical trial is the next step. The federal government backs the vaccine, and it has great potential to help people with opioid use disorder. 

Working to Prevent New Opioid Addictions

SPR Therapeutics

SPR Therapeutics is “improving lives around the world with its Peripheral Nerve Stimulation therapy for acute and chronic pain management providing a non-narcotic, reversible, safe, effective and more affordable alternative to addictive opioid medications and invasive surgeries.” It treats pain by sending low-voltage electrical pulses to a patient’s nerves using a small device that is attached to the skin near the injury site. A connected wire is placed near the nerve registering the pain administering electric pulses for 60 days. This SPRINT Peripheral Nerve Stimulation System has received backing from the FDA and funding contracts from the Department of Defense to market this product to amputees suffering from chronic pain. SPR Therapeutics has impressively created a non-opioid pain treatment neurostimulation device at a fraction of the cost of traditional models – 80% less.

Keystone Folding Box

Keystone Folding Box develops packaging for pharmaceutical companies and other industries. Its prescription opioid version of its Ecoslide-RX blister package is designed to limit prescription dispensing and deter opioid abuse.


Swiss-based medical device company Ethimedix created the SmartBottle. According to the company’s press release, this prescription dispenser “is  an oral, drinkable controlled analgesia system designed for use both at home and in hospitals, particularly for the treatment of post-operative, chronic or palliative pain.” Using biometric authentication, the SmartBottle only allows the patient to take a programmed dose and prevents unauthorized use by rendering the drug ineffective if someone tampers with it. The SmartBottle is not yet available in the U.S.

Astraea Therapeutics

What if there was a medicine that treated pain without the risk of addiction? Discovery-stage biopharmaceutical company Astraea Therapeutics is working on a promising non-addictive painkiller currently known as AT121. This breakthrough medicine appears to be more powerful than morphine but doesn’t bring on euphoria as current prescription opioids do.

Axial Healthcare

Axial Healthcare uses patient information to understand what puts patients at risk for opioid addiction. According to The American Journal of Managed Care, the company uses the data “to combat myths about opioid use.” Axial Healthcare also created “an algorithm that can predict which patients are at risk of becoming addicted, which can allow payers and providers to target services to this population.”


Despite our nation being faced with an invasive, disabling and dangerous drug crisis, there are signs of hope on the horizon. The integrative solutions in the works across an array of healthcare, biotech, and digital health companies offer us reimagined ways to prevent, manage and alleviate pain.

I look forward to sharing additional approaches with you as they become available. Do you know of one in development?

Are You Working to Curb the Opioid Epidemic?

If your organization needs help getting the message out about its approach to reducing opioid addiction, we can assist you with healthcare website development, executing digital marketing strategies, or developing digital content.