Pub­lic Health

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The star­tups seek­ing to solve the opi­oid cri­sis

FROM 2001 TO 2015, the num­ber of Amer­i­cans who died from over­dos­ing on opi­oids—the ad­dic­tive painkilling nar­cotics made from opium or its chem­i­cal analogs—more than quadru­pled, to 22,589, ac­cord­ing to the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Preven­tion. Deaths from the il­licit and pow­er­ful opi­oid heroin in­creased more than sev­en­fold over that span. “Right now, it’s too easy to ac­cess highly ad­dic­tive opi­oids that are killing peo­ple, and too dif­fi­cult to ac­cess the treat­ments for opi­oid ad­dic­tion,” says An­drew Kolodny, co-di­rec­tor of opi­oid pol­icy re­search at Bran­deis Univer­sity’s Heller School for So­cial Pol­icy and Man­age­ment. Drugs like buprenor­phine treat ad­dic­tion, and nalox­one re­verses over­doses, but these treat­ments are of­ten not cov­ered by in­surance providers. Enter a wave of star­tups cre­at­ing in­no­va­tive ways to aid peo­ple bat­tling opi­oid ad­dic­tion, thus tak­ing on one of the gravest health chal­lenges of our time. —EMILY CANAL

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