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July 21, 2016 • Headline News
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Medical device to help with drug withdrawal created here

Mary Mattingly

A Versailles company is on the path to changing the face of recovery for opioid and heroin addicts not just in Ripley County or Indiana, but globally. Innovative Health Solutions has unveiled a non-narcotic device called the Bridge to treat chronic and acute pain associated with opiate withdrawal.
Dr Chris BrownGary Peterson

Pictured from left is Dr. Chris Brown and Gary Peterson of Innovative Health Solutions.

Dr. Chris Brown, who has had a dental practice in Versailles since 1982, is the director and head of scientific research and development. Brown’s dental practice has focused on treating TMJ and facial pain, and he’s been interested in pain management for many years. He was a board member and past president of the American Academy of Pain Management. Brown and Gary Peterson own the five year old company. Peterson is the CEO of IHS and the engineer behind the device. He’s from Florida but has lived in Ripley County for several years now. The company, located at the small plaza at US 421 in Versailles, employs six people, including a vice president of sales and public relations/graphics specialist, and was established five years ago.

Approved by the FDA six months ago for acute pain, the Bridge is an auricular peripheral nerve field simulator that is placed behind the ear by a doctor or qualified clinician during a 15 minute outpatient procedure. In an outpatient setting, the small plastic device is positioned non-surgically behind one ear. Electrodes connected to the device are then implanted in nerve endings along the outer part of the ear; through these, the device sends electrical signals that target specific areas of the brain. It counteracts the effects of opioid meds, blocking pain, for those who have become dependent on it.

As Dr. Brown explains, opioid and heroin detox is quite painful and can take days or weeks to complete. “It just hurts. You get the sweats, fever, diarrhea, vomiting, people feel like their bones are breaking,” the 62-year-old dentist said, “It’s described as like the flu but 10 times worse.” Because of that, there is a “huge” failure rate for detox the first 24-48 hours, possibly 90 percent who cannot get through the withdrawal.

Once administered (the device is about the size of a half dollar), it takes less than a 30 minutes for direct results. Eighty-four percent of patients report their pain is minimal. “It’s amazing. We didn’t believe it the first time,” Brown commented. By the end of the five days, a patient will have managed to stay off drugs long enough for the body to readjust; he or she can then focus on treatment, recovery. Then, they may need medically assisted treatment like Vivitrol and treatment / counseling. “It’s not a miracle thing, but it’s a nice tool to have,” Brown said at his office. “They don’t have to go through that pain to get clean.” And better, they don’t have to use other narcotics to get off of heroin. The focus has been on heroin, but there is a big problem with prescription pills also, like oxycodone and fentanyl that bring on painful withdrawal symptoms too. That dependency often starts with a medical issue, like a back problem. “It’s a huge problem, not just in Ripley County or Indiana, but the whole United States.” There are no side effects, no radiation exposure, with the Bridge. It’s as safe as putting a blood pressure cuff on, Brown added.

Manufactured in state
Brown purposely looked for a manufacturer in Indiana and found it in Key Electronics in Jeffersonville. The three devices produced are the EAD and the MFS (military field simulator) for acute and chronic pain control, and the Bridge for heroin/opioid pain management. Brown figures Key’s can make 100,000 a month. IHS got a lot of publicity out of the device in the last month or so.

Area TV stations, USA Today newspaper and more have picked up on the new non-narcotic treatment. The chronic pain management device is marketed to surgical centers and pain doctors and the Bridge to detox centers and addiction treatment specialists. The device was in the works for five years, with research and animal and human testing through the medical center of the College of Wisconsin. The Versailles company is in the process of getting a patent. Gary Peterson developed the actual device and Brown worked on the theory and clinical application. There’s nothing else like this on the market, Brown said.

In this area it’s available at Modern Medicine in Rising Sun and in Seymour. It’ also being distributed in four counties (not Ripley County yet) with jail diversion programs for non-violent offenders. The cost is $495 plus installation, which treatment and medical experts point out is much less than a detox treatment program. The governor’s drug task force is actually working to get insurance companies to cover the device.

Drugs: A major problem
A task force was created last year after there was a tenfold increase in the number of heroin overdoses from 2005 to 2013. The task force analyzes current resources for treatment. “How big a problem is this? It’s scary. It’s staggering. We’re happy to provide an alternative,” Brown said,. “When we put it on, the recovery starts today. It’s an entirely different concept” than other detox programs. IHS has tracked 75 people who used the Bridge, and of those, 73 successfully got off the drugs, and 100 percent were relieved of the pain. Videos with interviews of addicts attest to the success. One young man said, “It helped me get through the first week…Before, when I tried to withdrawal, I couldn’t get out of bed. I owe my life to the Bridge for helping me get through my heroin problem.” Physicians, psychologists and lawmakers also tout its effectiveness in a promotional video. State Sen. Jim Merritt said opioid addiction is an epidemic the state needs to tackle, and this provides “a tool in the toolbox and helps us with detox.”

It took many people by surprise that the medical device came from a small town in Indiana. “This is Versailles Indiana, right? You go back 20 years you could not do this because the technology was not there. But now we have more computers than you could launch a spacecraft with, and the people who can use it. So why not Versailles? You have smart people here, you’ve got the technology and connectivity, plus it’s a great place to live,“ Brown said.

Local Bulletin Board

Application deadline is Friday, August 5.
Tyson Fund grant applications available
Many years ago, before Jim Tyson passed away, he wanted to set up a system to perpetually assist the residents in Versailles with things that might otherwise increase their taxes. He decided that he would set up a trust so that groups that are nonprofit and hold an IRS 501c (3) or (4) exemption could request funds to help them out with projects that would otherwise fall on the taxpayers in the Versailles area! For more information about the Tyson Fund, eligibility and how to apply read page 2 of the Osgood Journal dated June 14.

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