Fighting the Opioid Crisis through innovations in Medication Delivery: Podcast with John Timberlake
In this podcast we interview John Timberlake, CEO of Berkshire Biomedical, about the innovations in medication delivery that the company is trying to make, which may possible play a critical role in arresting the progress of the opioid crisis!
We hope you’ll subscribe and tune in for this exciting podcast.
The challenges of medication administration
There are many challenges to successfully administering medication to patients – and the prescribing part is only one aspect!
After the medicine is prescribed and verified with the pharmacy, it must be dispensed to the patient and monitored on an ongoing basis. If this is not done correctly, dosages can be taken in the wrong amount, causing the patient to experience the medication at the wrong strength. It’s even possible that there could be drug interactions or patients could become addicted to prescription medications as a result of drug mismanagement.
Medication adherence is an issue
According to a Mayo clinic study, 50% of patients do not take their medication as prescribed. (Brown et al., 2011).
It's a big issue!
It’s easy for communication between doctors and patients to become compromised given the time constraints that health professionals are under. It’s hard for patients, too; they may be confused by detailed instructions – even scared. Or maybe they are taking more than one medication and it’s overwhelming to keep track of it all.
Patients not taking their medications correctly is more than just a minor issue – it can become lethal in some cases.
The opioid epidemic and drug distribution
It’s a well known fact that the opioid epidemic is a serious problem in this country. With all the burdensome regulations put in place, many doctors have stopped administering pain medications altogether, to the detriment of their patients. Patients in chronic pain who can not access these medications will often resort to illicit drugs such as fentanyl. There is a huge need to help patients who legitimately need an opioid for pain management.
In many cases, people become addicted to opioids by accident. They have pain, and they take more medication than they should, and eventually become addicted.
How can biotechnology help?
Biotechnology to the rescue!
Medication delivery can be improved using analytics and remote monitoring available through medical technologies. There are several biotech innovations that have emerged seeking to solve the issues plaguing medication delivery and adherence.
Let’s talk about one example. Although not yet reviewed by the FDA and not available yet for sale, Berkshire Biomedical has come up with a COPA system that delivers timely and accurate doses of prescribed medications using biometric identification. Through use of the COPA system, medicine is only given to the person it is intended for.
Source: Berkshire Biomedical
How it works
Through a HIPPA compliant and cybersecure module, patients can be guided through taking the right medicine at the right time in the right amount. This is a huge improvement from the way that liquid drugs are typically delivered.
If a patient is supposed to take a certain medication at a certain time and in a certain amount, the device allows them to only take it at that time, and in that amount.
There is a sensor that reads the patient’s fingerprint; an ID match is required for the drug to be distributed.
If a different dosing is required, the doctor can notify the pharmacy, and the pharmacy can alter the device.
The doctor is notified if the patient attempts to take the medicine more frequently than he or she should.
The back-and-forth monitoring with the physician allows him or her to have a more realistic conversation with the patient about their experience adhering to the medication schedule. This can help the healthcare professional make a more informed decision.
Hopefully this avoids having to change the substance of drugs, change prescriptions, or order procedures that aren’t necessary.
Better medication delivery can fight opioid abuse!
Overcoming drug addiction requires a combination of counseling and drug-assisted therapy. Administering another opioid, sometimes Methadone, under a well-controlled monitoring situation can eliminate the cravings. Medication must be delivered in the right amount and at the right time for it to be effective.
Patients have to go to a clinic – but there are never enough clinics, especially in rural America. Methadone is typically delivered at the clinic in a liquid form. Six days a week, patients have to travel to the clinic for their dose, wait in line, etc. Sometimes clinics could be hours away, making it difficult to maintain a job.
A certain percentage of patients earn the right to take the medication at home on their own. These patients could receive a week’s supply of medication delivered via the device, once or twice and day and in the right amount. If they tamper with the device and take a week’s supply at once, the clinic will be notified and ask them to come back in at which point they will lose their take home privileges if they cannot present the device.
It's a huge benefit to the patient because they can integrate themselves back into society and hold down a job, fulfilling their purpose in life. It also frees up bandwidth at the clinic who can serve more patients using the same resources.
Conclusion on innovations in medication delivery
Improving the way that medicine is delivered and administered can have positive outcomes not just for opioid patients and clinics but also for all of society. We hope you have enjoyed this podcast. Thanks for tuning in to the life sciences and biotech podcast.
We'll see you in the next episode.
About Tim Dougherty
Tim is an investment advisor representative in Atlanta, GA and the host of the Life Science and Biotech CEO stories podcast. He has been an active investor in the life sciences since the mid-1990’s. His interest originated with research coverage of a private equity investment of Cambridge, MA based Ariad Pharmaceuticals (acquired in 2017 by Takeda for $5.2 billion), while working at a small family office/hedge fund, during that period.
His enthusiasm grew in the years since the financial crisis, as easy monetary policy provided ample liquidity to fund biotechnology research at exactly the time when digital advances would accelerate the pace and efficacy of that research.
About John Timberlake
John Timberlake has served as Berkshire Biomedical’s Chief Executive Officer, President, and a member of our Board of Directors since April 2021. Mr. Timberlake has more than 30 years of life sciences experience in bringing pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and drug-device combination products to market. Most recently, Mr. Timberlake was chief executive officer, president, and a member of the board of directors for Valeritas Holdings, Inc. During his fourteen‐year tenure at Valeritas, he advanced from General Manager to Chief Commercial Officer, and ultimately to Chief Executive Officer and Board Member in February 2016. Mr. Timberlake commercialized their lead product, V‐Go®; took the company public; and executed the sale of the company to Zealand Pharma in April 2020. For the fifteen years prior to Valeritas, he held varying leadership roles across corporate finance, and the commercial organization at Sanofi and its predecessor companies. As Director of New Product Commercialization for Metabolism and subsequently Vice President of Diabetes Portfolio Brand Management for Sanofi, he was instrumental in creating the multi‐billion‐dollar diabetes franchise of insulins and oral antidiabetic prescription products, including Lantus®, the company's block-buster basal insulin. Prior to that, he was an auditor with Deloitte and left the firm after five years as an Audit Manager. Mr. Timberlake was both a certified management accountant and a certified public accountant. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Accounting at Northwest Missouri State University, a Master of Science in Management at the Krannert School of Management, Purdue University, and a Master of Business Administration at the ESC Rouen in Rouen, France (now the NEOMA Business School).
Brown MT, Bussell JK. Medication adherence: WHO cares? Mayo Clin Proc. 2011 Apr;86(4):304-14. doi: 10.4065/mcp.2010.0575. Epub 2011 Mar 9. PMID: 21389250; PMCID: PMC3068890.
Disclaimers The information contained in this website and podcast are purely informational and not considered investment recommendations. Tim Dougherty’s participation in Biotech Insights is separate and apart from his role as an investment advisor representative. Nothing contained herein may be construed as a recommendation or endorsement of any of the companies discussed. Tim Dougherty has no financial affiliation with any of the companies mentioned in this communication. Tim Dougherty makes no representation that the information conveyed in this material is accurate and is under no obligation to update this information as changes occur.