Tom Welch, Executive Vice President of BioCorRx Pharmaceuticals

What is your history with BioCorRx?

I started with the BioCorRx a little over nine years ago and it was a clinic at the time. It was a single clinic in Santa Ana, California and they were only treating alcohol use disorder. I had come over from the healthcare sector.

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I was an executive healthcare recruiter and consultant and worked with a number of hospitals, clinics, skilled nursing facilities in staffing, amongst other things, teaching people how to bill appropriately, work with the insurance companies, work with Medicare, work with Medicaid. I did quite a few different things in healthcare; a lot of contract negotiations with government entities, etc. And Brady had actually asked me to go and take a look at this center in Santa Ana, California that was doing these implants. And I wasn’t quite sure about it, hadn’t heard of it before, but that were being utilized for alcohol use disorder and that would stop the cravings. I had never heard of it so I went and checked it out and actually ended up speaking to quite a few different patients and was really intrigued and that’s kind of how I ended up with BioCorRx.

How has addiction treatment evolved?

So it’s interesting how addiction treatment has evolved over the last several years. Medication-assisted treatment truly is actually something that’s still new to the public.

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Traditionally I think everyone kind of knows that you would go off to a 30- or a 60- or 90-day behavioral health facility and they would work on you with you know therapy there and I’m certainly not knocking that, but for most people who are entrenched in the throes of addiction, it’s just not enough. It’s not enough. They need something that’s gonna really get them over that hump. So now we’re seeing these various medications people are you using both agonist antagonist therapy. Some people they require a step down approach where they’re maybe put on a suboxone or buprenorphine and then eventually they’re tapered off and onto a naltrexone product for the cravings and it’s a process. But certainly it is not a one size fit all approach, which I think substance use disorder treatment used to be. So I’m happy to see the evolution. I’m happy it’s getting traction. It certainly has at a government level, so we’re certainly headed the right direction with it.

How have addiction treatment providers changed?

More and more family practitioners are actually starting to practice medication-assisted treatment with their patients, which is great.

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I think that’s something that should have happened a long time ago, but now we’re actually seeing more and more physicians not sending them out and say “Go to rehab.” They’re involved in their recovery. They have therapists they could refer out to, but I really, I think it’s great that they’re using this antagonist therapy and helping their longtime patients in their recovery. And I think it’s more comfortable for the patient. This is someone a lot of these patients have known for years and they’re more comfortable with their doctor. So being able to take medication-assisted treatment like our program and working with a therapist who they’ve partnered up with, I think, it’s phenomenal for the patient. I think it’s they’re more likely to stay in therapy long term and really go after long-term sobriety.

What is the biggest challenge facing Beat Addiction Recovery?

I think the biggest challenge for Beat Addiction Recovery itself… there’s actually a couple of challenges. Number one more people need to know about naltrexone therapy.

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I feel like it has not been at the forefront. We really put harm reduction medications when it comes to substance use disorder treatment and I’m not knocking it because a lot of people do need to be on that type of therapy, but not enough people know that you don’t have to be on that forever. There are ways to taper off of that type of treatment- the harm reduction treatment and get people onto naltrexone therapy or antagonist therapy. So it’s a challenge because you know this is an industry that the pharmaceutical industry has made a lot of money off these other types of therapies, so I would like to see more physicians pushing naltrexone therapy with obviously with behavioral support and I think that we’re doing a disservice to patients by not letting them know that this is available and letting them be involved in their choices. Also, reimbursement, it’s a lifelong struggle for everyone. Private insurance reimbursement, making sure that medications like this are being reimbursed. The worst thing you could do for a patient who is looking to get into recovery is put up roadblocks because the smallest thing will send them off and you won’t see him maybe again, ever. So making sure that we’re tearing down all these roadblocks we’re putting up: preauthorization. not covered under your plan. Things like that, I think is probably the biggest challenges for Beat Addiction Recovery.

What changes have there been in insurance coverage for addiction treatment?

So I think we are starting to see some changes in insurance reimbursement. I think a lot of that had to do with the SUPPORT Act of 2018, which really outlines what we need to do and what insurance companies need to do and what providers need to do to pave the way to make this easier.

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And it had to be done. And it’s no secret overdose deaths around an all-time high and as of right now, there’s no real answers out there. But we’re starting to provide answers. We’re starting to take a look at this seriously saying look, we don’t need another 100,000 people to die this year of overdoses. Let’s road map this out, and I feel like that what the SUPPORT Act of 2018 did and the current administration is also road mapping this out to help more and more people that that really want to get into recovery. So I think you’re seeing private insurance starting to comply more. I think we are starting to tear down some of those pre-authorization walls- not without a fight but I think it’s slowly but surely happening.

What is the story behind the bad press related to a naltrexone implant?

One of the great things about this form of medication-assisted treatment is: it is truly is a simple procedure. It can be done in an outpatient ambulatory clinic like a doctor’s office. It doesn’t require any special type of facility.

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Early on when I started in this form of medication-assisted treatment, there were a number of fringe individuals taking advantage of insurance companies and they were doing this out of surgery centers, accredited surgery centers and charging for major abdominal surgery, which was essentially fraud. It was fraudulent. I think the billings were at 60 and $70,000, which just is absolutely ludicrous. And that’s part of the reason I think we had such an issue really bringing this form of medication-assisted treatment to the forefront, but many of those players got caught. They were prosecuted as they should have been and I think that’s something that’s also paved the way for us to be able to get more reimbursement- both from private insurance companies and Medicaid. More Medicaid providers are looking at this, and they see the utility and efficacy in this. And so we’re starting to make some headway with these managed care plans.

What are your most memorable Beat Addiction Recovery success stories?

There’s so many different stories, so many interactions I’ve had with families who have successfully put a loved one through our program and I could dip into a number of them, but obviously a couple that come to mind are Jordan…

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Jordan’s mom reached out to me I think I was in an airport and somehow she had gotten my cell phone number and she, her family, had literally uprooted their lives to try and get their son, Jordan, who was hooked on originally on pain medication and then on heroin. They were doing everything in their power to get him away from the dealers and the distributors that that were getting him his heroin. And when she called me, she literally said I, I have limited funds and I’m, you know, at this point I’m going through my son’s closet looking at suits that I’m afraid I’m going to have to bury him in. So, I jumped on the plane. Her story resonated with me and we put Jordan through the program with a provider out of Washington, DC originally. And he did phenomenally. He stuck with his behavioral portion of the program. He followed up with his doctor’s visits and I’m happy to say we’re about four and a half years in, he is married with two children. He has his own company. He bought a house and he is truly a success story.

And then another story is we had a friend of the family from one of my children’s school whose parent was a miserable, miserable alcoholic. He had alcohol use disorder and he just he couldn’t kick it. His brain was hijacked and I remember talking with him originally and it was hard for him to even stay sober. He was vomiting all the time he was, I mean, he just he couldn’t function. But, he had the desire. He wanted to do it for his son and so we got him detoxed and we got him into the program. That was I want to say back in 2017. His life has completely changed, completely changed and it’s great, I get to still see him, so it’s a great reminder for me of what we’re doing here and why we’re doing it.

One more success story

There was a young lady that called one day, and somehow I ended up picking up the phone at that at the corporate office here, which I don’t normally do, but she had called and made inquiry into the program…

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…and so I had referred her over to one of our partners in Orange County and she was she was just a big personality, cute gal and was hooked, I mean she was alcohol, opioids and she knew that she was going down a one way street. And she reached out desperately looking for help. And so I actually ended up meeting her at our center because she didn’t have anyone to go with her at the time. And I went to her appointment with her and she went through. She did very well and then we didn’t talk. We talked for about six months and she was doing great. She went off her on her own. And again that was about five years ago and this Christmas I got a text from her with a picture of her holding a baby. She had a child with her now husband and again God, what a great feeling. What a great feeling knowing that you were part of someone’s life and gone to a level where you know at one point they didn’t think they would ever get to. So it was great. It was great. It was a great story.