Inventing ways out of epidemic
You would be hard pressed to think of a product invented just because an innovative thinker or a company with big research laboratories wanted to do something nice for humankind. It there isn’t any money in it, it probably is not going to be developed.
That is why Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s idea to spur research into ways to battle the opioid epidemic makes sense.
During the past few months, state officials have heard 44 ideas for new products to keep people from becoming addicted to opioid painkillers and to help those already hooked on them or heroin. Why the flood of proposals?
In April, Kasich used his State of the State speech to urge that Ohio government devote more resources to combatting addiction. One of his plans was to use state funds to encourage research and development.
That resulted in creation of a $12 million grant program, being administered by the Ohio Third Frontier Commission, which is accepting proposals. The deadline for full applications, if you’re interested, is Aug. 31.
Among projects for which funding is being sought is one calling for development of special pain-relieving massage gloves. Another is for a system that would allow health care providers to remotely limit how much pain-relieving medication a patient could receive at a time. A third seeks to develop new non-opioid pain medications.
No doubt some of the proposals are impractical. But the thought behind others, including those cited above, is solid.
Development of just one good idea from the pot of proposals state officials are considering for grants would make the $12 million expenditure worthwhile — and not just for Ohioans. Several other states, including West Virginia and Kentucky, are fighting wars against addiction.
Good for Kasich for pursuing the idea. But in the world of research and development, $12 million is not much money.
Federal officials should consider something similar, but with far more funding.
Uncle Sam already hands out billions of dollars for research and development projects, you say? True enough.
But why is there such interest in Ohio’s program? Clearly, state officials have crafted their initiative in a way that attracts researchers and developers who, for one reason or another, feel they have a better chance of getting money in Columbus than in Washington. In other words, there are more ideas for fighting opioid addiction than there is money to support pursuing them.
Need we point out that the drug abuse crisis has reached a point where we need all the new ideas we can find?