This post is as much about the drugs used to reduce pain and anxiety as it is about the benefits of a new solution. Overreliance on opioids and sedatives to control pain and anxiety account for the majority of overdose fatalities in the U.S. According to the CDC, in a study of data from 23 U.S. states from 2019 to 2020, fatal overdoses involving benzodiazepines – anti-anxiety drugs such as Valium and Xanax – totaled nearly 7,000 from 2019 to 2020. That number represents 17% of all drug overdose deaths. Also, more than 90% of benzo-related overdose deaths also involved prescription or illicit opioids. We write about opioid overdose deaths often, but benzodiazepine-involved fatalities are also on the rise. Mdoloris Medical Systems and HypnoVR announced last month that the two companies are working together to develop treatments for pain and anxiety using virtual reality (VR).

HypnoVR and Mdoloris are French companies. HypnoVR develops digital VR therapies used with hypnosis to manage patient pain and stress. Mdoloris develops medical devices that that monitor the patient’s parasympathetic system: the part of the autonomic nervous system that calms the patient and restores a peaceful state. Mdoloris devices report the patient’s response to pain and anxiety in real time by measuring a biomarker based on heart rate variability. The technology is continuous and non-invasive. With accurate information on the patient’s nervous system status during surgery, for example, an anesthesiologist may be able to reduce the levels of administered sedative and opioid pain reduction drugs.

Used together, the Mdoloris monitoring system will provide biofeedback for HypnoVR’s hypnotic virtual reality programming. The goal is to use the feedback to guide the ongoing VR to personalize the experience. Fittingly, the first prototype of the joint development is called HypnoVR Biofeedback. If this mashup of two technologies can help reduce drug overdose deaths, we’re already fans.