Quell: First Drug-Free And FDA Cleared Pain Relief Wearable Hits the Market
Raising over 300% of its goal on Indiegogo in less than two weeks, Quell, created by scientists and technologists at NeuroMetrix, is the first pain relief wearable to hit the market. Quell looks like and is worn similar to a sports band, with the device wrapped around the upper calf and stimulating electrodes placed directly on the skin. It’s a completely drug free device that is FDA cleared and clinically proven to relieve chronic pain via nerve stimulation. The device stimulates sensory nerves in the endogenous opioid system, a pain-relieving system of neurons that produce natural opioids that act to block pain in the central and peripheral nervous system. Each device can be quickly calibrated to best fit the wearer’s therapy and sensitivity needs.
We interviewed Dr. Shai N. Gozani, who founded NeuroMetrix in 1996, to learn more about his vision for Quell and the company’s long term goals.
How effective is Quell versus pain medications on the market today? Does Quell have any side effects and can one be addicted to using Quell?
Dr. Gozani: Every person experiences pain differently. While the therapy provided by Quell might be enough relief for one individual, others will choose to use Quell in addition to their current pain management regimens, which may include prescription or over-the-counter medication. Quell delivers its therapeutic benefits by providing nerve stimulation that releases natural opioids in the brain, producing a central inhibition effect that “turns down the volume” of pain signals. Quell uses a different mechanism of action than narcotics; because the nerve stimulation helps the body to release its endogenous pain-reducing opioids naturally, there’s no risk of dependency.
Quell does not have any side effects, although some users may experience mild skin irritation under the electrodes after prolonged use. People with existing, implanted devices that utilize electrical stimulation—such as a pacemaker, defibrillator or implanted neurostimulator —should not use Quell.
We think that Quell can be part of a comprehensive pain therapy solution, potentially reducing the risk of dependence on strong medication. Because we know that people respond differently to nerve stimulation, we’re offering a 60-day money back guarantee for our product.
How does Quell know how much stimulation to give per individual?
Dr. Gozani: Worn just below the knee, each user customizes their Quell through a quick and easy calibration process the first time it’s used. After that, Quell automatically adjusts to the user’s optimal stimulation level for pain relief. The ability to optimize stimulation for each patient distinguishes Quell from traditional TENS devices. The device also provides stochastic (random) stimulation to limit therapeutic plateaus in the nerves and automatically increases the intensity over time, to help prevent nerves from desensitizing and causing decreased pain relief with consistent use.
What distribution methods and channel partners will the company be using to get the word out?
Dr. Gozani: Quell is available for pre-order now on Indiegogo through mid-April at a discounted rate. Following the end of the Indiegogo campaign, the device will be available direct to consumers via our website and in select doctor’s offices. Right now we’re only able to ship to customers in the US and Canada, but plan to expand internationally in the future.
The device is FDA approved and launching soon. What are your/the company’s long term aspirations for the product?
Dr. Gozani: Our long-term aspirations are to bring safe, effective pain relief to the millions around the world that suffer from chronic pain. Looking forward, we’re hoping to make Quell available in retail stores so it can be more widely accessible to the general public. Medicine is becoming a consumer-driven field, and health devices like Quell can help empower people to take responsibility for their health and wellbeing.