Opioid pain medications work in the nervous system or in specific receptors in the brain to reduce the intensity of pain. More than 191 million opioid prescriptions were dispensed to American patients in 2017, and the most common drugs involved in prescription opioid overdose deaths include Methadone, Oxycodone, and Hydrocodone[1].

Up to 25% of patients receiving long-term opioid therapy struggle with opioid addiction[2]. In 2016, more than 11.5 million Americans reported misusing prescription opioids in the previous year[3].

Prescription opioid use and abuse leading to addiction and catastrophic outcomes remains a national crisis. The leading cause of injury death in the United States is drug overdose[4], and most of the deaths from drug overdose deaths involved an opioid. From 1999 to 2020, more than 263,000 Americans have lost their lives to overdoses involving prescription opioids[5].

Because many die prematurely, surviving family members and communities lose out on benefits from an individual’s lifetime earnings. Opioid use disorder also results in costs associated with added health care expenses, criminal justice, lost productivity, and reduced quality of life. In 2017, these costs totaled an estimated $1.02 trillion—54% was attributed to overdose deaths and 46% to opioid use disorder[6].

Overdose deaths involving prescription opioids nearly increased by five times from 1999 to 2020[7]. We are losing 187 people a day from opioid overdoses and 68,630[8] people died from opioid overdoses in the U.S. in 2020 (74.8% of all drug overdose deaths).

Prescription opioids are often recommended for low back, neck, and musculoskeletal pain management, as well as for patients suffering from peripheral neuropathy. More than 100 million suffer with chronic pain and an estimated 80 percent of all Americans will experience some form of back pain during their lifetime.

On October 24, 2018, President Donald Trump signed the Opioid Crisis Response Act (OCRA) into law. OCRA received overwhelming bi-partisan support in both Chambers. HR6, which is now Public Law 115-271, broke new ground in being the first legislation to mandate aggressive development and adoption of alternative pain treatments that include “innovative medical technologies for pain management”. On October 11, Congress held its first ever briefing on ending opioid use through “innovative medical technologies for pain management”. Photobiomodulation (PBM) was the featured technology[9].

Summus Medical Laser devices are class 4 therapeutic lasers, FDA-cleared as adjunctive devices for the temporary relief of pain[10]. Photobiomodulation (PBM) utilizes non-ionizing red and infrared laser light and is a non-thermal process involving endogenous chromophores eliciting photochemical events at various biological scales.

PBM treatments are shown to resolve inflammation, improve peripheral circulation, modulate pain, and enhance tissue healing.[11]

PBM treatments delivered with a class 4 therapeutic laser are shown to significantly reduce symptoms in patients with chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy[12] and significantly reduce pain and improve the quality of life of older patients with painful diabetic peripheral neuropathy[13].

Summus Medical Laser treatments are non-invasive, pain-free, have no side effects yet are proven to be effective for both superficial wounds and deep neurological conditions.


Photobiomodulation treatments delivered with a Summus Medical Laser class 4 therapeutic laser are a proven non-invasive opioid-free solution for pain management, with concomitant societal improvement and health care savings.

[1] https://www.cdc.gov/opioids/basics/prescribed.html

[2] Banta-Green CJ, Merrill JO, Doyle SR, Boudreau DM, Calsyn DA. Opioid use behaviors, mental health and pain—development of a typology of chronic pain patients. Drug Alcohol Depend 2009;104:34–42

[3] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2018 Annual Surveillance Report of Drug-Related Risks and Outcomes — United States. Surveillance Special Report 2pdf icon. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

[4] https://health.gov/healthypeople/objectives-and-data/browse-objectives/injury-prevention

[5] https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/deaths/prescription/overview.html

[6] Curtis Florence, Feijun Luo, Ketra Rice. The economic burden of opioid use disorder and fatal opioid overdose in the United States, 2017. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 2021-01-01, Volume 218, Article 108350.

[7] https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/deaths/prescription/overview.html

[8] https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/deaths/index.html

[9] https://citizenoversight.blogspot.com/2018/11/ending-opioid-use.html

[10] https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfPCD/classification.cfm?ID=ILY

[11] https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1258/ebm.2012.012180

[12] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27887804/

[13] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31405365/