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Drug overdose deaths in the U.S. have topped 100,000 for the first time

November 17, 2021 | NPR News

More than 100,000 people died over a 12-month period from fatal drug overdoses for the first time in U.S. history, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. "This tragic milestone represents an increase of 28.5%" over the same period just a year earlier, said Dr. Deb Houry with the CDC in a call with reporters Wednesday. "[Overdoses] are driven both by fentanyl and also by methamphetamines," said Dr. Nora Volkov, who heads the National Institute On Drug Abuse, part of the National Institutes of Health.

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Pacira boosts non-opioid pain portfolio via $450M Flexion buy, with more CVR payments to come

October 11, 2021 | Fierce Pharma

Pacira is buying Flexion Therapeutics for an equity value of about $450 million, or $630 million including debt, the two companies said Monday. The deal gives Pacira Zilretta, an extended-release treatment for osteoarthritis knee pain. The addition of Zilretta plus two clinical-stage pain med candidates “aligns with the Pacira mission to provide an opioid alternative to as many patients as possible,” the company said in the statement. Pacira will buy Flexion’s shares at $8.50 apiece, a 47% premium to their previous closing price. Flexion opened trading today at $9.85 per share. The deal is heavily backloaded, with a cash payment of up to $8-per-share saved as a nontradeable contingent value right (CVR).

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Pinwheel flower points researchers to ‘new’ opioid receptor

September 9, 2021 | Anesthesiology News

A flower used in traditional medicine as an analgesic has led researchers at two institutes to collaborate on targeting a newly identified receptor of endogenous opioid peptides, with the goal of developing a unique molecule to treat chronic pain. Scientists from the Immuno-Pharmacology and Interactomics group at the Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH) joined with the Center for Drug Discovery at RTI International in an investigation of the traditional medicine conolidine, which is derived from the pinwheel flower (also known as crepe jasmine, Tabernaemontana divaricata).

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Opioids rip through U.S. workforce, with deaths at record level

June 17, 2021 | Bloomberg

Before the Covid-19 pandemic was the drug epidemic. Its relentless toll added a record 90,722 overdose deaths in the U.S. for the year through November 2020, a grim number obscured by coronavirus casualties that recently topped 600,000, according to federal data released Wednesday. As the virus transfixed the nation, the drug crisis spread to largely untouched parts of the country -- exacerbated by the recession and millions of job losses. Not only stores and restaurants shuttered: Counseling services moved online, inpatient clinics closed and mobile clinics pulled back. Without support, many Americans relapsed and some turned to drugs for the first time.

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Scientists discover SARS-CoV-2 infection can relieve pain – may help explain COVID-19 spread

June 4, 2021 | SciTechDaily

Research shows SARS-CoV-2 promotes pain relief through the receptor neuropilin-1, which gives scientists a new target for non-opioid pain therapeutics and offers one possible explanation for the unrelenting spread of COVID-19. SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, can relieve pain, according to a new study by University of Arizona Health Sciences researchers. The finding may explain why nearly half of all people who get COVID-19 experience few or no symptoms, even though they are able to spread the disease, according to the study’s corresponding author Rajesh Khanna, PhD, a professor in the UArizona College of Medicine – Tucson’s Department of Pharmacology.

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