National Institute on Drug Abuse Funds New Adherence Technology for Opioid Addiction

“This project with emocha will allow us as clinicians and researchers to examine a new platform that has potential to expand our medicine bag with a technological aid that helps patients achieve a successful recovery.”

emocha Mobile Health, a Baltimore-based startup company focused on medication adherence, today announced that it has been awarded a Small Business Innovation Research award by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Through the NIH Fast-Track mechanism, the Phase 1 award will total $225,000, with an additional $1.5 million for Phase 2 granted upon achieving milestones. The project will demonstrate the feasibility of video directly observed therapy for patients undergoing the initiation phase of buprenorphine treatment through office-based opioid treatment (OBOT) programs. Outcomes of interest will include adherence, retention in care, measures of illicit opioid use and abstinence, and medication diversion.

Directly observed therapy (DOT), the practice of observing a patient ingest every dose of medication, is the worldwide standard of care in tuberculosis (TB) and methadone maintenance treatment. While DOT can be resource-intensive, it is the gold standard for securing adherence in TB.

emocha’s video-based DOT technology makes DOT cost-effective and scalable. emocha is quickly becoming the market leader for video DOT among public health departments monitoring TB patients, and has also deployed the technology for hepatitis C monitoring. In a recent Johns Hopkins study of emocha’s platform for TB, patients achieved 92% average adherence to medication calculated on a dose-by-dose basis, and providers saved more than $1,400 per patient over a six-month period.

For prescribers of buprenorphine for opioid use…

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