Ohio Gets Creative in Search for Opioid Solutions

Speakers (left to right): Dr. Sara McIntosh, M.D., Medical Director, Maryhaven; Dr. Nicole Wadsworth, D.O., FACOEP, FACEP, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine, Heritage of Osteopathic Medicine, Ohio University; Jacqueline Lewis; David Goodman, Director of the Ohio Development Services Agency and Chair of the Ohio Third Frontier Commission

Over the course of the past two decades, drug overdose deaths have continued to rise in the United States. Today, the majority of drug overdose deaths (more than six out of ten) involve opioids, and overall deaths have quadrupled in the past 18 years. 91 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose. But Ohio is hard at work searching for solutions, and it’s time to get creative.

Ohio is looking for new ideas to be brought to the fight against drug abuse and addiction through the Ohio Opioid Technology Challenge. Great ideas can come from anyone, anywhere, and this global competition is an innovative effort to find new approaches and technology solutions in the battle against opioid addiction.

“Whether you’re a medical or healthcare expert, or simply a concerned citizen, we are calling on everyone to be part of the solution,” said Director David Goodman, chair of the Ohio Third Frontier Commission.

The state is spending $1 billion annually attacking the opioid problem from every direction including prevention, education, treatment and recovery, and law enforcement. These efforts are helping, but Ohio wants to leave no stone unturned in its search for ways to combat the problem that is affecting lives, families and communities across the nation.

“I want people to know that this isn’t a choice,” said Jacqueline Lewis, a mother whose 29-year-old son is embattled with a heroin addiction that began with opioids prescribed for scoliosis-related pain. “It’s important to educate people for what to look for: the behaviors and the signs and what it means to find something in your child’s room. It can be something so simple, too. With this challenge, the sky’s the limit.”

The Ohio Opioid Technology Challenge is leveraging $8 million of a $20 million commitment to advance new ideas and accelerate scientific breakthroughs in the battle against drug abuse and addiction. The challenge is a multi-phase competition that awards escalating prize amounts associated with progressive levels of solution development.

“It’s an opportunity to have a forum with folks from all over the world, the billions of people that live on this planet who are aware of this epidemic and who have that light bulb go off in their head: ‘I have this idea, I’ve told people about it, I don’t know what to do with it,’” said Goodman.

Together, we can work to end the opioid problem nationwide.

“To me, what this is all about is the possibilities in educating and raising that awareness and seeing all the entities coming together. That is so necessary,” said Lewis. “It’s like a village raising the children. You need that; you need everybody in the same boat.”

Submit your ideas for the Ohio Opioid Technology Challenge at the Challenge website. Submissions are due by December 15, 2017 at 5 p.m. Winners will be announced in late January 2018, and the second phase of the program, the challenge phase, will launch in February 2018.

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