Actionable insights straight to your inbox

Equities logo

National Opioid Epidemic Puts Focus on Biotech

America’s opioid crisis has officially become the deadliest drug overdose epidemic in US history.
Aiming to identify the best income and growth stock opportunities in the market.
Aiming to identify the best income and growth stock opportunities in the market.

America’s opioid crisis has officially become the deadliest drug overdose epidemic in US history.

According to recent data, America’s opioid crisis has officially become the deadliest drug overdose epidemic in US history. Estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that more than 72,000 people died from drug overdoses in 2017. This marked an increase of roughly 10% from the prior record levels set in 2016 and a broad majority of those deaths (nearly 49,000) came as a result of opioid addiction. These total figures are higher than the combined US military casualties seen during the Vietnam and Iraq wars, and greater than the death toll caused by HIV/AIDS, car crashes, or gun violence during any single year in US history.

At the curent rate of progression, forecasts conducted by STAT show that opioids could kill as many as 500,000 Americans in the next decade. To put those projections into perspective, this number is larger than the entire population of the city of Atlanta, Georgia. The single most dangerous component of this group is the synthetic opioid fentanyl, which now kills more than 29,000 people annually. In the most recent reports, this drug was followed by heroin and common opioid painkillers such as OxyContin and Percocet in the total number of deaths cited. These alarming trends show the country’s tragic need for aggressive treatment solutions, as they make it clear that significant advancements will be required to halt the national epidemic. As a result, there is rising potential for growth at biotech companies capable of meeting the urgent requirements of addicted patients in vulnerable demographics.

In an effort to reduce the impact of this expanding epidemic, the National Institute on Drug Abuse recently awarded BioCorRx BICX a $5.7 million grant to prepare its sustained-release naltrexone implant for FDA approval. BioCorRx offers healthcare solutions focused on progressive treatments for alcoholism and certain opioid addictions. The company is known for its recovery programs which are designed to treat alcoholism and certain opioid addictions at rehabilitation centers located throughout the United States.

Treatment programs developed by BioCorRx utilize psychological counseling programs in conjunction with a proprietary long-lasting implant of Naltrexone, which is a medication that has been approved by the FDA because it is scientifically proven to significantly reduce cravings for drugs and alcohol. Biodegradable pellets are inserted in the lower abdominal area just beneath the skin, allowing for a slow and steady release of Naltrexone through a sustained dosing pattern into the bloodstream. Depending on factors specific to individual patients, these doses can last for several months, giving the patient an opportunity to engage in psychological therapy and reset behavioral patterns without cravings for opioids or alcohol. The company distributes its program to licensed healthcare professionals, independently licensed clinics, and other healthcare providers throughout the country.

BioCorRx is also actively developing BICX101, an injectable Naltrexone formulation, and BICX102, a Naltrexone implant manufactured through its recent partnership with IRISYS. This partnership may be early evidence of growth driven by rising demand for Naltrexone, which has moved sharply higher since 2014. The progressive nature of these treatment strategies is reflected in the company’s dual-pronged approach, which openly acknowledges a wider variety of behavioral and physical characteristics commonly associated with opioid addiction. Furthermore, trajectories in Medicaid spending suggest that market trends may continue to expand in the quarters ahead and create improved revenue opportunities for biotech growth companies in 2019.

In the past, medical professionals would typically identify and treat a single underlying issue as the root cause of addiction. Substance abuse was often considered to be a “moral flaw” which could be cured by imprisonment or other forms of behavioral readjustment. But the rising death toll figures in the United States make it clear that these methods are generally ineffective. An average of 130 people die in the United States every day from drug overdoses, a rate which has tripled over the last 20 years. Clearly, sensible treatment techniques are required in order to successfully reverse these worsening national trends. Companies showing true innovation amidst this health care crisis may continue to receive government funding for expanded research studies, and these are the types of events which tend to attract the attention of investors seeking opportunities in small-cap growth stocks. The dual-pronged treatment programs implementing models designed by BioCorRx are cost-effective and comprehensive in nature, enabling an improved quality of life for recovering addicts.

In addition to ending substance abuse itself, the goal of any treatment program should be to return people to productive roles in their community without the threat of relapse in the future. Studies have shown that intensive counseling programs paired with specified medications like Naltrexone appropriately address the chemical and psychological dependencies associated with addiction, producing elevated long-term success rates which prevent substance abuse recidivism. In awarding its recent grant, the National Institute on Drug Abuse acknowledged BioCorRX for its progress in achieving these goals to help patients afflicted with addiction and prepare them for a life without substance abuse. These efforts can have dramatic economic repercussions, as most people who get into and remain in treatment stop using drugs, decrease their criminal activity and improve their occupational, social, and psychological functioning.

Growing national needs in these areas have also uncovered significant business opportunities in sector-based industries related to the addiction crisis. As a result, the addiction treatment industry has undergone a radical transformation in a very short period of time, quickly expanding into a $36 billion market in just the last few years. It is estimated that 1 out of every 10 Americans have a substance abuse problem, and heightened demand for Naltrexone (and other relevant treatments) indicates vast potential for growth for small-cap biotech investors.

In the 2018 State of the Union speech, Trump said that his administration “is committed to fighting the drug epidemic and helping get treatment for those in need.” Of course, rhetoric and action are two completely different animals, but this acknowledgment of the severity of the problem sets the stage for companies like BioCorRx to generate impressive growth going forward. While many investors are focused on trade wars as a potential threat to their wealth, the most recent studies show that drug abuse may actually be the bigger national risk. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, addiction costs an estimated $750 billion each year in lost worker productivity and healthcare-associated treatments. These trends make it clear that significant advancements are required in order to halt the national epidemic. Fortunately, key biotech companies are coming to the rescue and this makes them favorable growth investments for long-term seekers of value. Organizations showing true innovation in these areas stand to benefit from significant growth prospects in the years ahead.

This article was contributed by Dividend Investments, where we focus on dividend stocks and growth opportunities in the market.

A weekly five-point roundup of critical events in the energy transition and the implications of climate change for business and finance.