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Non-Addictive Painkillers May Soon Be Available
A new opioid painkiller that is non-addictive and won’t make users feel high could soon be hitting the market. If things go as planned, this pharmaceutical breakthrough could spark a revolution in pain management and treatment.
A Potential Breakthrough?
Connecticut-based Cara Therapeutics has recently unveiled this new compound called CR845. The medicine works on different nerve-ending receptors than standard painkillers. What’s more, CR845 does not directly entering the patient’s brain, greatly decreasing the chances of getting high. It also eliminates many classic opioid side effects, including nausea, seizures and hallucinations.
“We need safer medications,” said Dr. Lynn Webster, lead investigator on the trials for the Cara compound and past president of the American Academy of Pain Medicine.
“They will not solve the problem of prescription drug abuse, but they will reduce overdose deaths.”
Current CR845 research focuses on intravenously (IV) dispensing the medication for post-operative hospital patients, but the company also plans to make an oral version that will help to address chronic pain.
Officials at Cara Therapeutics will submit a new drug application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the IV type in 2016 and for the oral tablet version in 2017. If approved, they would likely be available to the public soon afterward.
Meeting Healthy Skepticism
“It wasn’t that long ago we were told (OxyContin) wasn’t that addictive. I hope that they continue to work on such drugs.”Van IngramOf course, news of CR845 is being met with some skepticism. “It wasn’t that long ago we were told (OxyContin) wasn’t that addictive,” said Van Ingram, executive director of the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy.
“I hope that they continue to work on such drugs. [But] from the Kentucky perspective, we just have not had a good experience with opioid drugs.”
Kentucky has one of the worst overdose rates among U.S. states and loses roughly 1,000 residents per year to overdose deaths.
The Future of Painkillers in America
Until a non-addictive painkiller can hit the market, some are questioning the benefits of traditional painkillers. The American Academy of Neurology said last September that the risks of taking strong painkillers, which include addiction and even possible death, far outweigh any benefits in treating chronic pain.
The UN World Health Organization reported earlier this month that 70,000 opioid overdose deaths occur each year. More than 16,000 of those deaths took place in the U.S. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also revealed that there were 22,000 prescription drug overdose deaths in 2012.
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