Postsurgical Painkillers That Slip On Your Wrist

Patients recovering from surgery often complain that painkillers aren't working. That's because it's hard to administer such drugs precisely when they're needed. To manage pain more effectively, Elan Corp., based in Gainesville, Ga., has developed a wristwatch-style intravenous pump system that provides a uniform dosage. And it's more portable than existing intravenous systems.

The Panoject system has a disposable cartridge that fits into a watch-like control unit. The controller reads the prescribed dosage encoded on the drug cartridge. Then, drugs are pumped from the cartridge into a catheter in the patient's arm. A patient can get extra medication by pushing an override button, though there are limits that prevent an overdose.

Initially, Panoject will deliver morphine and other potent analgesics, says Elan Chief Executive Donald E. Panoz. Later, it may be used for insulin and chemotherapy agents. Panoz says the device is currently in clinical trials and that the company plans to file for Food & Drug Administration approval by the end of 1992.

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