HEALTH

Opioid crisis sparks innovative proposals in fight against epidemic

Ohio Gov. John Kasich's call for scientific breakthroughs to fight the opioid epidemic has organizations around the state stepping up with proposals to solve the national crisis.

Project ideas have so far come from 44 organizations and include remote-controlled medication dispensers, monitoring devices for addicts, heat therapy, mobile apps and pain-relieving massage gloves.

These organizations are competing for a total of $20 million in grant money divided into two different types of initiatives, according to the Ohio Development Services Agency.

$12 million is allocated to competitive research-and-development grants for ideas that already have some degree of development, the agency said. The grant money is being combined with $8 million for the Ohio Opioid Technology Challenge, a prize competition to help find solutions to overcome the epidemic.

“The goal of the challenge is to find innovative solutions to address prevention, treatment and overdose response,” a press release stated.

"Advancing technology is one more way to ensure we leave no stone unturned in the fight against opioid addiction,” Ohio Development Services Agency Director David Goodman said in a statement.

Innovative Medical Equipment LLC is one of the dozens of organizations applying for a grant. A rep told Fox News their thermal therapy device offers an alternative to opioids.

“Our device is one that they can take home…and help manage their pain at home,” Marketing Manager Wendy Glancy told Fox News. The organization hopes to fund the development of additional accessories for their product and a next generation of the device. The company is also applying for research funding to prove that their device does reduce the need for opioids to manage pain, Glancy said.

In 2011 Kasich started the health resource hotline Governor's Cabinet Opiate Action Team. Data they provide shows overdose deaths in Ohio increased from just over 2,500 in 2014 to just over 3,000 people in 2015, the latest data available.

The governor in a Aug. 8 tweet said  “we’ve been going all out in our fight against drug abuse.”

Michelle Chavez is a Fox News multimedia reporter based in Pittsburgh.