Neurostimulation for Opioid Withdrawal Relief


About Our Guest

Daniel Powell has over 20 years in developing and selling technology-based products. He has served in multiple leadership roles including software engineering, program management, marketing & business development. Over his career, Mr. Powell launched over 18 medical device products including those for Deep Brain Stimulation for movement disorders and Vagus Nerve Stimulation for Epilepsy. Most recently he co-founded and serves as CEO of Spark Biomedical, developing a novel, wearable neurostimulation solution to address opioid withdrawal and addiction.

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Episode Overview

The last three years have seen a dramatic rise in opioid-related deaths. In 2018, there were 42,000 deaths related to opioids. That number rose 57% to 73,757 in the year-long period between April 2020 and April 2022. One of the primary reasons many keep using opioids is fear of withdrawal. In the first episode of theVital Spark series, Daniel Powell, CEO of Spark Biomedical, joined Host Daniel Litwin to explain his company’s alternative opioid withdrawal treatment approach.

Powell suggested that a critical aspect of helping individuals and their families is to provide up-to-date education, resources, and accurate information — which is why the company is launching its podcast Vital Spark. Powell stated, “Addiction normally is coming from a place of trauma, normally coming from a place of someone trying to heal but not have the resources, so they’re coping.” Spark is offering a treatment option and now adding resources to ensure patients and their families are armed with the best information possible.

Spark Biomedical offers a solution to supplement traditional drug-based opioid withdrawal therapies through its wearable neurostimulation device, the Sparrow™ Therapy System. This drug-free treatment option uses transcutaneous auricular neurostimulation (tAN®) and is applied to the skin on and around the ear to stimulate the trigeminal and Vagus nerves that surface just below the skin in these areas. Worn by patients thorough the five-to-ten-day withdrawal period, this FDA-cleared treatment option has been clinically proven to significantly reduce acute withdrawal symptoms within 30 to 60 minutes of active use.

The company also has its sights set on understanding how its Sparrow Therapy wearable neurostimulation solution can impact PTSD and improve cognition, among other profound effects. More specifically, Spark recently kicked off a Phase II clinical trial to study the effect wearable neurostimulation can have on long-term addiction. Powell stated, “The overall goal has always been to be a recovery tool for long-term addiction.” He added, “After you get through withdrawal and what we’re starting clinical trials on, is can we manage your cravings, your depression, your anxiety, the triggers for relapse and actually fix the curve and start to bend the curve of addiction in America?”

Powell’s advice for supporters of addicted individuals? Don’t try to fix them. Have compassion for them and their journey. And, if they need support for opioid withdrawal, have them ask their care provider about the Sparrow Therapy System.” For more information on this topic, follow Spark Biomedical’s LinkedIn account and visit sparkbiomedical.com.  

Host: Daniel Litwin

Contributor: Daniel Powell

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