fox news - FDA clears nerve stimulator to aid recovery from opioids
US health authorities have cleared a brain-stimulating device for patients suffering from debilitating withdrawal symptoms caused by addiction to heroin and other opioids.The nerve stimulator, known as NSS-2 Bridge, is the first device to treat such symptoms including joint pain, anxiety, stomach aches and insomnia.The announcement on Wednesday by the Food and Drug Administration opens a door for doctors to prescribe the device to patients who fear withdrawal symptoms coming off addictive opioids.It comes amid an epidemic of opioid abuse, which includes both illegal narcotics like heroin and prescription painkillers.Last year, more than 62,000 Americans were killed by opioid overdoses - more than HIV, car crashes and the 19-and-a-half year Vietnam war.Like with any drug addiction, one of the hardest obstacles to quitting is the fear of the debilitating withdrawal symptoms, which can make it difficult to sleep, think clearly, and get on with daily tasks, as well as a myriad of painful side effects.Currently, the standard method to wean people off opioids is methadone, a government-approved replacement drug which can be administered in a clinic.But even transitioning to that can be a shock to the system, driving many back to dangerous drugs.'The technology gives those suffering from opioid addiction an easier transition to all forms of medically-assisted treatment,' said Brian Carrico, president of Indiana-based medical technology firm Innovative Health Solutions, the manufacturer.'The device helps take away the fear of withdrawal and leads to a much higher success rate.' The NSS-2 Bridge is worn behind the ear where several electrodes stimulate nerves in the brain and spinal cord to relieve symptoms.The FDA says a study of more than 70 patients showed a 30 percent decrease in symptoms within 30 minutes of using the device.Nerve stimulators have previously been approved to treat epilepsy and depression.'Our vision is for every person in withdrawal, preparing for withdrawal, or suffering from post-acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS), to have access to this technology,' Carrico said.'Significantly reducing withdrawal symptoms lessens the dependency on opioids, allows for easier transition to Medically Assisted Treatment (MAT) and ultimately works as another tool to combat the opioid epidemic facing our country.
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