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article imageWith rising deaths, startups fighting America's opioid crisis

By Karen Graham     Nov 3, 2017 in Health
Drug deaths in the U.S. rose by 21 percent in 2016, a one year spike amounting to a bigger jump than over the previous four years, according to the CDC. But treatments are often not covered by insurance. Enter some innovative startups.
Bloomberg is reporting the figures on drug overdose deaths saw an increase in every quarter of 2016, according to preliminary data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an indication the opioid epidemic is accelerating.
"Right now, it's too easy to access highly addictive opioids that are killing people, and too difficult to access the treatments for opioid addiction," says Andrew Kolodny, co-director of opioid policy research at Brandeis University's Heller School for Social Policy and Management, according to Inc.
Kolodny cites two treatments — buprenorphine to treat addiction, and naloxone used to reverse overdoses, explaining these two drugs are often not covered by insurance providers. And the difficulty in getting these two treatments is something a number of startups across the U.S. are tackling in innovative ways.
Chrono Therapeutics
Hayward, California-based Chrono was founded in 2014 by Guy DiPierro. The company is developing a next generation transdermal drug delivery wearable that integrates biologically-timed drug delivery with personalized digital support to help people manage their addiction to opioids.
This is the Chrono nicotine patch with mobile assistance site. The opioid patch is similar and will ...
This is the Chrono nicotine patch with mobile assistance site. The opioid patch is similar and will include added support.
Chrono has already developed a nicotine patch using the same drug delivery platform, that includes behavioral support and data analytics, along with compliance measurements achieved by embedded sensors and digital reminders that keep the care team in the loop. Both products are still in clinical trials.
Braeburn Pharmaceuticals
Princeton, New Jersey-based Braeburn Pharmaceuticals was founded in 2012 by Behshad Sheldon. The company manufactures Probuphine, a long-acting prescription implant that provides those who are addicted with a steady low dose of buprenorphine. Their product, called CAM2038, is a subcutaneous injection depot formulation of buprenorphine.
Again, the treatment is part of a comprehensive treatment plan that will include counseling and psychosocial support. This treatment must be administered by healthcare professionals to ensure delivery and medication adherence. It has already been given approval by the FDA's Psychopharmacologic Drugs Advisory Committee and the Drug Safety and Risk Management Advisory Committee.
About 29.5 million people worldwide  or 0.6 percent of the adult population  suffered from drug use ...
About 29.5 million people worldwide, or 0.6 percent of the adult population, suffered from drug use disorders in 2015, with at least 190,000 mostly avoidable deaths annually, mainly from opioids
Erika SANTELICES, afp/AFP/File
CerSci Therapeutics
CerSci was founded in 2015 by three UT Dallas faculty members, The spinoff company has been awarded a small-business drug discovery grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The grant to CerSci Therapeutics is one of the first drug discovery grants awarded to a University spinoff company.
The company expects their first drug will go into human clinical trials in 2018. According to their website, they expect to receive FDA high-priority status and will provide an efficacy readout in late 2018. CerSci wants to deliver a new generation of non-opioid medicines to treat acute post-operative and chronic neuropathic pain (including diabetic- and chemotherapy-induced).
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