FDA clears Indiana-made Bridge Device to help detox from opioids

In November 2017, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration cleared the way for commercial marketing of the the Bridge Device across the United States. (WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — What if a little device could help make the pain of withdrawal go away?

For Hoosiers dealing with opioid addiction, that just got a little easier. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration just made a big announcement that could impact people across Indiana and the rest of the nation.

State Sen. Jim Merritt, a Republican from Indianapolis, said, “I know someone who’s tried 20 times to get clean, and they can’t because of the incredible pain that comes with withdrawal.”

In January, Merritt introduced the Bridge Program to the criminal justice system to help addicts kick the habit and detox from heroin and other opiates. The main focus is a small device called the Bridge Device.

Merritt said, “This device takes all the pain out of withdrawal.”

Now, the FDA has cleared the way for commercial marketing of the device across the United States.

The device is pretty small; maybe an inch or so, about the size of a small matchbox or hearing aid. It is designed to attach right here, behind the ear.

Developed by Indiana-based Innovative Health Solutions, it is a small electrical nerve stimulator. It sends pulses to the brain and is meant to reduce opioid withdrawal symptoms like sweating, joint pain, nausea and agitation. It stays on for 5 days, making the withdrawal process less painful.

Merritt said, “There is hope and that’s what we need is hope. This will offer that person who is struggling with addiction, hope and a gateway to freedom.”

Greenwood Recovery Court was the first in the nation to offer the device. Judge Lewis Gregory, who presided over the court, saidm “We tell people if you come to us, ask us for help, you will get help.”

Gregory said they’ve offered it as an option for people put on drug-related probation since January. He said the device is working, pointing to 13 people who chose it. “Reports from nearly all of them have been that the bridge is very successful in almost totally eliminating the nausea. It cuts down on the pain probably at least by half.”

The device costs $499 plus $150 for a medical professional. It is only available by prescription.