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New technology could help prevent opioid overdoses in Arkansas

A company is hoping its new devices will help lessen opioid addiction and deaths. Their inspiration? Arkansas' own former president Bill Clinton.

LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — For America, 2021 was the deadliest for opioid-related deaths.

Arkansas is one of the states with higher opioid prescriptions written. The state also increased 40% in overdose-related deaths in 2020.

With numbers trending up, one company is helping to prevent those deaths. The group's inspiration behind that push? Former president Bill Clinton.

"My brother's addiction... from the time he was 15 until he was 60. He's about to celebrate his fifth year of sobriety," said former president Bill Clinton.

It's an epidemic that has spanned through generations.

It's an issue that for Clinton, hits closer than we previously knew. It took perspective to get to the root of the issue.

"He [Clinton's brother] realized he was going to die if he didn't do something, and somehow it worked," said Clinton.

According to the Central Arkansas Harm Reduction Project, it's important that more resources are provided to Arkansans who want to quit.

"The need in this community is much larger than we are able to address at our current capacity," said Mackenzie Bolt, with the Central Arkansas Harm Reduction Project.

That's where Masimo, a national company based out of California, comes into the picture. The company is introducing new technology aimed at preventing overdose deaths.

"It wasn't until I had a conversation with President Clinton that the problem isn't just in the hospitals, it's actually bigger at home," said Masimo Founder, Joe Kiani.

One of the devices that they plan to use is called a Bridge, which sits right behind the ear and stimulates nerves. 

Through that stimulation, it reduces opioid withdrawal symptoms as quickly as 20 minutes.

"You wear it for a few days and hopefully with most people 3-4 days is enough. But, some people it takes a week," said Kiani.

Another device that they plan to use is the SafetyNet Alert. The device is put on your finger and works while you sleep after taking an opioid drug. The device's purpose is to alert medical attention if you stop breathing.

"The term 'overdose,' people think you took too many of it. Sometimes even half your dose if you take it, you may not wake up," said Kiani.

The company's Bridge device is FDA approved, but they're still waiting on the SafetyNet Alert to be approved.

Masimo will be located in southwest Little Rock with a receiving and distribution warehouse.

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