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West Michigan medical company developing products to fight opioid epidemic

Spencer Stiles, President of Stryker Instruments
Spencer Stiles, President of Stryker Instruments shows products that help curtail opioid abuse.

A West Michigan company says it realizes how high the stakes are in the battle against opioid addictions, and is designing products with that battle in mind.

Spencer Stiles, the President of Stryker Instruments, talked with 6th District House Rep. Fred Upton (R-Michigan) about new Stryker products that could help curb the opioid epidemic.

“We have a responsibility as leaders in our communities to solve these challenges,” Stiles said. "We’ve made some good steps.”

A new prototype device is less than the size of a quarter, and designed to be implanted in people with back problems to provide more support and cushion, thus reducing the need for opioids.

Stiles said the product already has approval in Europe, but he’s hoping for approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) some point in the fall.

Stiles pointed to something called the Smart Sink as a product that is already being sold by Stryker to help fight the opioid crisis.

Essentially, the Smart Sink is a way for hospitals to destroy unused pain medications.

Some say those unused medications can become a problem as addicts seek to find improperly disposed medications, even used fentanyl pain patches.

"[Smart Sink] offers a variety of options as to how you disposed the unused opioids," said Stiles.

He said that even if someone breaks into the Smart Sink, whatever waste ingested would make the individual sick.

Stryker recently acquired the company that manufactures Smart Sink, but Stiles said future versions of the product will be smaller and easier for hospitals to utilize.

"We're going to make it half as big," he said.

Upton emphasized the importance for an all-hands-on-deck policy for fighting opioid abuse as the products were being demonstrated inside the Stryker Instrument headquarters.

"It's important we get these things approved and that they're safe," he said.

He mentioned the FDA approval process for new products like the ones offered or in development by Stryker.

Upton said the U.S. House of Representatives has passed at least 50 bills aimed at addressing the opioid problem, but added the private sector and physicians need to be involved.

"It's time we realize this is a real and urgent problem that hits every community and every economic strata," Upton said. "We can make a real difference."