For those directly or indirectly coping with extreme physical pain, any relief available could have a profound positive effect on the quality of life and their relationships with those around them. Chronic-pain suffers are negatively impacted in virtually every aspect of their existence; their affliction weighing on their mental, emotional and psychological health. The number of people suffering from chronic pain is over 1.5 billion and the market for its management is estimated to grow to over $60 billion by 2015, according to a report by Global Industry Analysts, Inc.
Chronic pain sufferers are treated primarily through the use of pharmaceutical drugs, a method with an impact of its own. While effective on some causes of pain, consistent reliance on medication and analgesics can and have created serious drawbacks, not the least of which is a population growing increasingly dependent on potentially addictive bio-chemicals. In some cases, reliance on the drug can become dangerous, extreme and even fatal.
"One of the biggest problems nationwide that has been expanding over time is the difficulty with taking narcotic or habit-forming drugs," says Johnnie Johnson, CEO of Competitive Technologies, Inc. "If narcotics work, and some people want to stay on them, so be it. But if you want to try something new in situations where narcotics either do not work or have not been able to work, this is when we step in with Calmare."
The way Competitive Technologies (CTTC) steps in is through its revolutionary Calmare® pain therapy medical device. The non-invasive treatment that incorporates Scrambler Therapy ™ technology and focuses on a biophysical process that sends small waves of electrical currents through the human body's natural neuropathways, eliminating pain signals sent to the brain.
A Better Way to Treat Pain
The technology was created by Italian Professor Giuseppe Marineo to treat neuropathic pain related to cancer. However, the technology can be applied to manage other types of pain as well, such as phantom limb syndrome, reflex sympathy dystrophy, restless leg syndrome, and others.
"In an example of neuropathic pain, if you have a leg removed below the knee, you might experience phantom limb pain," Johnson said. "The mind is still under the assumption that the bottom portion of the leg that was removed is still there. So there are constant electrical flows of current through to your brain indicating that your leg hurts. However, it's hard for a leg to hurt that isn't there. What the Calmare device does is it retrains the brain, if you will, to remove the pain area for the section that is no longer in pain."
The Calmare device itself works very simply. A medical clinician attaches pads that are very similar to those used with an EKG machine above and below the patient's area of pain. Once attached, the machine is turned on and the appropriate low level of electrical current, 0.5 milliamps, is applied. With each treatment session, the period of pain relief increases.
"One of the typical kinds of pain that we've focused on is what is called CIPN, or Chemotherapy-Induced Peripheral Neuropathy," Johnson said. "The individual cancer patient takes the chemotherapy treatment, but one of the side effects might be that the hands and the feet are constantly feeling like they're getting stuck with needles, to the extent that one cannot even run their hand through their hair. This happens in about 30-to-40 percent of chemotherapy cases. Our device will take care of that pain where narcotics do not. There is no other known treatment for CIPN."
Expanding Market for Calmare
The company is already approaching 200 units sold worldwide, proving the effectiveness and demand of the Calmare technology in the market. The company distributes the device in the U.S. with its own sales force, and uses licensed distributors in international markets such as Europe and Asia. Calmare is approved for sale by major regulators such as the FDA in the U.S. and has the EU's CE Marking for Europe.
The company has multiple areas of focus for growth, most notably the U.S. military. The Navy and Department of Veterans Affairs were among the largest customers for the company in 2011, and Johnson says Competitive Technologies is working with the Army, Air Force and Navy to get more of their Calmare devices to other military sites. Other markets include pain sufferers under workman's compensation, who have had to stop working as a result of their debilitating medical condition.
One of the major hurdles for Competitive Technologies, however, is gaining approval for insurance reimbursements, both from Medicare and private insurers. This, in turn, affects the company's ability to support hospitals purchasing the Calmare device for outpatient and inpatient care, as well as for doctors in clinics.
"One of the critical points in dealing with the medical field is insurance reimbursement," Johnson said. "We're working with Medicare to gain approval for the outpatient hospital market. We're hopeful of having that approved as soon as possible, and rapidly rolling into the other Medicare areas. Insurance reimbursement is a huge priority for us that we're making great headway on as well. Those are a few major milestones for us."
Making a Difference
While gaining Medicare approval and coverage from private insurers could really accelerate the growth and reach of Competitive Technologies at an exponential rate, the company's Calmare device has already made a lasting impact on patients that have tried it. Johnson shares one example of the impact the Calmare has had.
"One of the most dramatic examples I've heard was that a young man had been sent to one of the military sites to have his leg amputated because he was under such intense pain due to damage to his leg and body. After over 100 surgeries, he had to do something or he had to have his leg removed. As he was being measured for his prosthetic leg, one of the doctors suggested trying the Calmare device. So they sent him down to the pain therapy area to be treated with Calmare. After three treatments, he actually went bowling. This is a man who could not stand or sleep without being in horrible pain. He probably shouldn't have gone bowling because his muscles weren't strong enough yet from recovering from the pain, but this young man is a poster boy for this device."
Johnson says he has received more similar correspondence and feedback from sufferers of various other pain symptoms that the Calmare has helped. He adds that the company's goal is to revolutionize the pain-treatment market to become the first option for pain sufferers before turning to pharmaceutical drugs.
"It's absolutely, extremely rewarding," Johnson said. "Every family knows someone that suffers from pain. Often times these individuals are carrying very intense levels of pain. Think about it from that standpoint. It's a huge market place and there's a very strong need, and we have a very dynamite product."
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