Walt Baxter: Pain management and drug delivery research can play major role in alleviating opioid epidemic

Walt Baxter, a Medtronic Inc. scientist, said recently during a Capitol Hill briefing that public/private partnerships to develop pain management technology can be effective to combat opioid epidemic.
Baxter spoke alongside his Medtronic colleague Timothy Denison at the event organized by the American Institute for Medical & Biological Engineering. The Congressional Research and Development Caucus and the Addiction, Treatment and Recovery Caucus also helped organized the event entitled: Fighting Pain Without Drugs, Industry Efforts to Combat the Opioid Epidemic.

Technology, such as electric spinal cord stimulation to alleviate pain, has already proven to be an effective alternative to opioids, Baxter said.
Targeted drug delivery is another method that could help patients he said. In that model, a reservoir that can hold liquid drug is implanted in a patient, along with a line to the specific location in the body where the drug is needed. So rather than taking an oral opioid that effects the whole body, the drug only treats the area where it is needed.

Studies already show that targeted drug delivery is very effective in getting patients to completely stop opioids.

Baxter said federal funding plays a key role in public/private partnerships that develop this research. If that model continues to grow, patients should have improved and more varied options in the future.