According to the CDC, more than six out of 10 drug overdose deaths involve an opioid (including oxycodone, hydrocodone, methadone, and heroin). Such opioid-related overdose deaths have quadrupled since 1999, coinciding with a near quadrupling in prescription opioid sales in the United States over the same time period, despite no evidence of an increase in pain reported by Americans.

While consistent pharmaceutical innovation has benefited countless suffering Americans, the costs have begun to outweigh the benefits, and such a poor cost/benefit ratio has been no more apparent than it has in the case of prescription opioid abuse.

The TimerCap

TimerCap, LLC, a company that has manufactured and marketed an innovative prescription pill bottle cap, is at the forefront of a multilayered effort to address and alleviate the nationwide opioid abuse epidemic. Available at all CVS and Rite-Aid locations (3 caps for under $10.00), the TimerCap is affordable and easy to use.

Designed to fit stock prescription pill bottles, the TimerCap has a built-in LCD stopwatch timer that automatically resets when the cap is removed and keeps track of how many hours have passed since a patient took their last dose. TimerCap also manufactures the iCap, which connects to a patient’s phone through Bluetooth technology, alerts the patient of the times to take their medication, and produces on-demand reports of adherence through the free Medisafe iConnect app.

This product arrives at a vital time for American patients, given that the opioid abuse epidemic of the past 15 years has proven that keeping track of medicinal doses is an inarguable necessity. The World Health Organization has indicated that more than 125,000 annual deaths in the United States alone are a result of patients not taking their medications as prescribed. And such forgetfulness is certainly not alleviated by Medicare, which doesn’t cover compliance packaging for prescriptions.

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“This is truly where an ounce of prevention can bring a pound of cure; the CDC, along with other studies, shows that when patients take medication as prescribed, they lower their needs for additional medical services and cost the system less to maintain their health,” says Larry Twersky, CEO of TimerCap, LLC.

With less than 50 percent of patients taking their medication as directed, primarily due to forgetfulness, the financial costs of poor patient medication compliance have become impossible to ignore. Lack of adherence is the cause of more than $300 billion in increased healthcare costs and more than $200 billion in lost pharmaceutical revenue. But the TimerCap is success in addressing such financial costs, and most importantly, addressing the human costs, in that the TimerCap is proven to lift medication adherence by more than 33 percent on its own (and 100 percent when combined with other initiatives).

What Lies Ahead

Various initiatives for opioid abuse prevention are currently being researched, which may work in conjunction with the TimerCap to pave a path towards increased prescription drug adherence. For example, the CDC is now recommending against doctors prescribing opioids for most chronic pain conditions.

Several manufacturers are also busy researching abuse-deterrent formulations (ADF), including physical or chemical barriers that prevent crushing, grinding or dissolving of drug products, and aversive substances, which are added to produce intolerable sensations if the drug is not taken as directed.

And most importantly, research is being conducted to seek out identifying traits that predispose certain patients to substance abuse disorders, and also to successfully manufacture non-addictive pain medications.

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The aforementioned endeavors are undoubtedly ambitious, but several of them merely remain on the horizon, out of reach, and opioid addiction is a multidimensional epidemic that demands immediate attention. Such attention needs to begin with prevention practices. The TimerCap is the first tool that needs to be put in place as a part of such a prevention program.

“People are going to have to want to change their habits and the iCap and Timer Cap help monitor the progress to provide intervention . . . What gets monitored gets done,” Twersky concludes.

For more information, visit TimerCap.