Could this Packaging Invention Help Solve the Opioid Epidemic?
by Theresa Christine Johnson on 02/20/2017 | 6 Minute Read
If you’ve ever battled chronic pain or have had some kind of operation, like a wisdom tooth extraction, you’ve probably received a prescription for oxycodone. Over the past couple decades, opioids like this have become many doctors’ go-to painkillers, and the results have turned out to be nothing short of catastrophic. Because the body can develop a tolerance to these drugs, subsequently higher doses are then required to relieve the pain. This, combined with the fact that people can become dependant on them, ropes many into addiction, constantly seeking their next high. As a result, 44 people die daily from an opioid overdose—twice as much as from heroin.
But Larry Twersky has something that can help prevent this: the TimerCap. As CEO of TimerCap LLC, he’s developed this handy timed lid to keep track of when and how often medicine gets dispensed. “The Timer Cap™ is a patented Smart Cap with a built-in LCD timer that works like a stopwatch, letting you know exactly how long it has been since you last opened your medication,” he explained. “Every time you open the cap, the timer resets back to zero. When you close the cap, the timer automatically begins counting up the hours and minutes since you last took your medications so you don't have to.”
Most opioids have clear instructions, like to take them every four hours and not to operate heavy machinery or motorized vehicles. But Twersky compares the situation of giving someone opioids with a generic cap to giving a person a car without a speedometer. Although they’ll see road signs, they really won’t know how fast or slow they’re going until there’s a real problem and they get pulled over. Additionally, the effects of opioids only make it harder for patients to track their last usage.
We sat down with Larry Twersky to learn more about the opioid epidemic, why patients struggle with managing their doses, and how TimerCap can help.
Tell us a little bit more about the opioid epidemic. How did this become such a problem and why are opioids so dangerous?
Larry Twersky: Over-prescribing with no monitoring of usage. Purdue Pharma sales increased 2000 percent in five years, In 1995, the year after receiving FDA approval, OxyContin accounted for $45 million in sales. By 2000, sales increased to $1.4 billion. In 2010, OxyContin took control of 30 percent of the United States painkiller market, accounting for $3.1 billion in sales.
How are certain patients/caretakers unable to manage their drug intakes?
Larry Twersky: Pain medication is used for post injury and surgeries and to manage chronic pain issues.
Patients, cognitively impaired and disoriented by opioids need real tools to manage their medication. When 20 minutes can feel like two hours to someone in pain, and two hours can feel like an eternity, we need to upgrade the standards of opioid dispensing to provide a tool for self management and diversion detection.
What kinds of prescriptions/drugs is the TimerCap best suited for?
Larry Twersky: TimerCaps work for patients with chronic medication, Children taking ADHD medication, People on Statins, Alzheimers and dementia patients, opioids, and pediatric patients being co-managed by parents or family members.
What do you think is the root of the opioid problem we’re facing? How does the TimerCap tackle it?
Larry Twersky: This is a big multifaceted problem that needs multiple solutions such as tracking and monitoring who and how much is being dispensed to a patient. Next the TimerCap give the patient and caregivers ways for better responsibility and tracking.
TimerCaps 12 months of protection:
? Monitor of last dosage — Disoriented and cognitively impaired patients need a tool to know last dose to know when it safe to take another or resume driving.? Managing medication in the bottles they are dispensed — Medication and labeling should be together for the highest level of patient safety.? Lift Adherence (Taking medication as prescribed) — Proven to lift adherence by up to 33%.? Detection of household diversion — Child Safety packaging does not address the at risk children from 6-16.? Deterrent of unwanted openings — A greater likelihood of being caught reduces the attempts of diversion.? Habituation for long term adherence — Per the CVS Study the first 60 days determines long term adherence patterns.
CVS and other stores offer the TimerCap for purchase, but why aren’t these required for opioids and other schedule II prescriptions?
Larry Twersky: We hope that with enough media attention that legislators will start to demand better packaging to monitor children at risk aged 6-16. This simple ounce of prevention makes complete sense, and should be a logical start for communities to demand as mandatory when dispensing opioids and/or cannabis
How can the TimerCap help solve the problem of opioid abuse, and how is this solution different from other ones out there?
Larry Twersky: TimerCaps fit existing medication bottles and count up automatically and there is nothing to program. This means it never competes with labeling instructions and simple for anyone to see the time elapsed. In turn, patients can manage their medication in the original bottles they are dispensed in.
So do TimerCaps have the power to end to our massive opioid problem? Even Twerksy himself knows that’s not the case. “That seems too optimistic,” he mentioned, although acknowledging that this small preventative measure could still make a significant difference in preventing unwanted abuse. “Opioid addiction has physical, mental, and emotional components that all need to be addressed by more than just a TimerCap. [They’re] a good first start to patients never go down that road.”