"Addiction is a recognized disease," says Gerd Meyer-Philippi, Managing Director of Compware Medical GmbH from Pfungstadt.

In order to help people deal with their addiction, Meyer-Philippi and Günther Kalka and their company have specialized in documentation and dosing systems in substitution: those affected receive a substitute for the actual drug, for example methadone instead of heroin.

Methadone is a synthetically produced opioid with a pain-relieving effect.

The company has been active in this area for 35 years and, according to its own statements, is the world market leader for documentation and dosing systems in substitution;

it employs 45 people.

The systems also counteract the shortage of doctors because they take on the technical tasks.

When Meyer-Philippi and his best friend Günther Kalka decided to start a business, only a few countries offered medical care for drug addicts;

Addiction was not yet considered a disease.

According to Meyer-Philippi, the attitude of German politicians has also changed since the beginning of 2000.

The city of Frankfurt commissioned Compware to develop dosing systems.

There was also criticism

However, criticism was repeatedly encountered.

Some continued to believe that drug addicts were not entitled to treatment because their addiction was their own fault.

Meyer-Philippi replies: “Every person has the right to treatment for their illness.

With methadone you can go on with your life and you are freed from your addiction.” The company supplies around 25,000 people in Germany, reports Meyer-Philippi.

According to data from the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices, a good 81,000 substitution patients were registered in 2020.

One customer is Substicare GmbH in Düsseldorf;

she is active in the fields of consultation, services and research in substitution medicine.

The company supports practices and says it has been using Compware products since 2017. It also uses competing products, says Managing Director Jan Preuss, but Compware's products were the "most user-friendly and error-free".

“The Compware machine is the best on the market, but it's not entirely free of bugs.

These must be constantly eliminated, and the bugs must be reduced,” says Preuss.

Computer crashes and problems with the storage of data are meant by errors, but not security-related aspects.

The devices are no bigger than a coffee maker;

they are used in medical practices, pharmacies, clinics, prisons and other institutions.

According to their own statements, they are used in 300 institutions in Germany, including 60 prisons and 30 pharmacies.

The dosing systems are used in 100 to 150 institutions around the world.

In Germany, 90 percent of the so-called MeDoSys systems are rented.

The basic prices for rent are between 500 and 620 euros per month.

Buying a dosing system costs around 35,000 euros.

The devices are almost always bought abroad.

Treatment can prevent drug-related crime

To prevent the methadone from being sold on the black market or the processes being manipulated in any other way, all systems document the processes, scales check the content and the evaporation of the methadone is also checked.

This enables complete proof of the use of the drug.

When dosing, attention is also paid to the amount to which the person concerned is accustomed.

It is dosed in such a way that withdrawal symptoms are prevented in the short term, explains Meyer-Philippi.

"Methadone doesn't cure addiction, but it takes away the pressure of addiction and especially the withdrawal symptoms for around 24 hours," he says.

The patient no longer needs to inject.

The treatment can also prevent drug-related crime.

Sales in 2020 were 3 million euros, says Meyer-Philippi.

In 2021 it was at least 3 million euros.

The market share in Germany amounts to about 80 percent.

There are competitors, but they are mostly "cheap suppliers".

In Germany in particular, however, one must understand the complex health system and also the strict narcotics guidelines of the United Nations, which regulate the use of methadone.

The company is currently building up another area: dosing systems for people who have to take several medications at the same time.

This is a huge market with around 15 million people, says Meyer-Philippi.

The article comes from the student project "Youth and Business", which the FAZ organizes together with the Association of German Banks.