New company Runatek combats opioid addiction with Venus, TX, founder

Kenya Menjivar
Waxahachie Daily Light

Matthew Lucci, a long-term Venus resident and former Navarro College student, is developing a wearable smart IV pump that's designed to prevent chronic pain patients from developing an addiction to prescription opioids, with his company Runatek.

The idea to combat the addiction to opioids was one that began when Lucci was a senior at Southern Methodist University. 

Above is a graphic of the prototype Sotiras device and what the company is modeling it after.

“After grad school, I started this company, Runatek, with a friend of mine. We were both into medical devices and trying to solve big problems,” explained Lucci. “For us, the biggest thing that we saw was the growing opioid crisis. At that time, about 130 people died of an opioid overdose every single day. It’s only gotten worse under the pandemic, with some states seeing their numbers double, but on average going up 20 percent. It’s definitely something we need to start shining more light on.”

Runatek became a limited liability company (LLC) last year and reorganized as a corporation at the beginning of this year.

“I came up with this idea, using my background as a mechanical engineer, for this advice that we essentially built Runatek around, and it’s a device that essentially measures the amount of opioid in a patient’s bloodstream and makes sure that it gets the right amount that they need to manage their pain but not get a high at the end of the day. By doing that, you eliminate the psychological mechanism for addiction that you would get with a traditional pill or even with a traditional IV form of medication,” Lucci explained. 

The prototype is being called "Sotiras device."

In Ellis County, the most recent data shows that 4.05 percent (or roughly 1 in every 25 residents over the age of 12) misuse prescription pain relievers, and about 22 people die of an overdose each year in the county, according to Lucci.

As Runatek sets into the step of "prototype," they strive to go for FDA approval in their next step. 

“I think that this project that’s evolved into a full scale kind of start up is kind of me being able to personally put forth my best effort, my time, my energy and my resources towards helping a lot of people and making a big difference in the world around me. And making sure seven years from now (they) never have their lives stripped away from them,” Lucci said.

Now, this coming Tuesday, March 16, Runatek will launch its idea into the universe through its website and social media. 

The company will then begin a crowdfunding campaign to further develop the device for FDA approval.

“Our projection is, if we’re able to hit those goals, then we should be through FDA approval in 12 months, clinical trial within 18 months and at the end of those months actually be able to have our device prescribed, preventing long-term pain patients from developing addictions,” Lucci shared.

The goal set for the campaign is $12,500 for bare minimum costs. As the company goes live with the idea, the money raised will be exhibited. The faster the money is raised, the faster the tech can be developed, he said.

“What’s very unique about us and our project is that we’re filling a space that no one else is really filling right now, when addressing the opioid crisis," Lucci stated. "I think addiction treatment is a great thing that we need to be spending more time and money on. But it’s never going to get better if we don’t address the root cause of addiction and prevent addiction from happening in the first place, and that’s where we’re at."

To learn more about the company and their mission with their device, visit www.runatek.com or follow them on Facebook @Runatek .