FDA Approves New Device To Ease Opioid Withdrawal

(REUTERS/George Frey)

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Nick Givas Media And Politics Reporter
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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is marketing a new electrical stimulation device to help fight opioid addiction and limit the pain of acute withdrawal.

The NSS-2 Bridge device is the first of its kind and was found to reduce sweating, stomach pain, agitation, and insomnia in patients battling addiction. The main forms of treatment for drug dependence have been limited to medications like Suboxone and Methadone, which can also be habit forming. Devices like the NSS-2 are considered “non-addictive” and are meant to be used during the most intense portion of a patient’s withdrawal.

“The NSS-2 Bridge device is a small electrical nerve stimulator placed behind the patient’s ear. It contains a battery-powered chip that emits electrical pulses to stimulate branches of certain cranial nerves. Such stimulations may provide relief from opioid withdrawal symptoms,” The FDA said in a Wednesday press release.

The agency made the decision to market the NSS-2 after conducting a study on its effectiveness. Each patient was evaluated using the clinical opiate withdrawal scale (COWS score). This takes the patient’s heart rate, pupil dilation, skin condition, joint pain, and anxiety into account and produces a score between zero and 36. The higher the number, the worse the withdrawal.

Before using the device, the average COWS score of patients in the study was 20.1. After the treatment, all patients saw a reduction in their score of 31 percent within 30 minutes. The device can only be obtained with a prescription and patients suffering from hemophilia, psoriasis vulgaris or who are using a pacemaker are advised to seek alternative options.

Since President Donald Trump declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency, there have been renewed calls for increased research into non-additive painkillers and alternative treatments to help curb addiction. In their press release the FDA said it was committed to continuing to seek out “innovative new ways to help those currently addicted live lives of sobriety.”

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