News About Analgesia

The opioid crisis in the US: fueling the next wave of drug development for chronic pain

February 18, 2020 | Tools4Patient

The opioid crisis is a major public health issue, as more than 1.2 million individuals in the US are reported to have opioid use disorder, while the number of overdose-related deaths reached over 47,000 in 2017. Overall, the total economic burden of the opioid crisis in the United States in 2019 was projected to be approaching $200 billion. This epidemic is in stark contrast to the fact that more than 50 million adults (20.4%) in the US are living with chronic pain, including nearly 20 million individuals dealing with high impact chronic pain (persistent pain that reduces life or work activities). As a result of this dichotomy, the FDA has challenged the biopharmaceutical industry to accelerate development of non-opioid analgesics, along with abuse-deterrent opioid formulations and/or solid dosage forms.

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The Opium Cycle

November 5, 2019 | NPR News

Recently, Purdue Pharma filed for bankruptcy as part of a tentative multi-billion dollar settlement with state and local governments over lawsuits alleging that the company misled doctors and the public about the addictive nature of their well-known painkiller, Oxycontin. But Purdue Pharma's story is part of a pattern that has repeated itself throughout the history of the opium trade. It's a pattern documented by the book Opium: How An Ancient Flower Shaped And Poisoned Our World by Dr. John H. Halpern and David Blistein. The cycle begins when an opium product proves devastating to users. Innovators come along, promising a safer alternative, and virtually every time, they downplay the risks of addiction. Addiction ensues. Then come new innovators, promising something better and less addictive, and the cycle continues.

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A place where the opioid problem is upside down

September 27, 2019 | NPR News

In the U.S., the opioid crisis is about too many opioids. In some other parts of the world, the opioid problem is about the exact opposite — a lack of access to powerful pain management drugs. As pharmaceutical companies are being sued in the U.S. for flooding the market with opioids, doctors in West Africa say they can't even get hold of those painkillers.

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In tiny doses, an addiction medication moonlights as a treatment for chronic pain

September 23, 2019 | NPR News

As the medical establishment tries to do a huge U-turn after two disastrous decades of pushing long-term opioid use for chronic pain, scientists have been struggling to develop safe, effective alternatives. When naltrexone is used to treat addiction in pill form, it's prescribed at 50 mg, but chronic-pain patients say it helps their pain at doses of less than a tenth of that. Low-dose naltrexone has lurked for years on the fringes of medicine, but its zealous advocates worry that it may be stuck there. Naltrexone, which can be produced generically, is not even manufactured at the low doses that seem to be best for pain patients.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This article demonstrates the importance of a drug maker's ability to charge and market appropriately for a medicine given the high costs, long path, and other challenges associated with regulatory oversight.

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