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Friday, July 21, 2017

Less Addictive Prescription Opioids?

Nearly 20 years into a prescription opioid epidemic, it is fair to say that opioid painkillers are not going anywhere. At least anytime soon, that is. Try as one might to find an alternative form of pain management that does not carry the potential for abuse, few options are available. Drugs, such as Exparel have shown promise regarding post-surgery pain, but it is not widely used, yet. As far as the day to day chronic pain that millions of Americans suffer from, there just isn’t anything as effective as opioids, seemingly.

Nevertheless, the search must continue to find replacement pain therapies and to reduce the practice of over-prescribing these deadly narcotics. One need only look at the front pages of newspapers across the country to get an idea of the scope and scale of this epidemic. Hundreds of people die from overdose every week from prescription opioids prescribed for pain. Yet, doctors continue to prescribe, and in way they must. Patient pain, and the treatment of it is important. But, the cost of doing so is exceedingly great.

There are alternative forms of pain management, perhaps less effective but certainly not carrying the risk of overdose. Over the counter pain relievers can do more than most people think. Combine those with holistic approaches, like acupuncture and yoga, and good results can be achieved. Although, there will always be some people who will not respond to safer approaches. Reducing the need for opioids remains a serious challenge.


Less Addictive Opioids?

New research suggests that NKTR-181, by Nektar Therapeutics, may be a safer opioid for managing pain, according to a press release. NKTR-181 has a unique molecular structure, which patients may be less likely to abuse.

Unlike other opioids currently on the market for pain management, NKTR-181 may provide effective pain relief—without intense euphoria. Which might make users crave it less, mitigating the potential for addiction. The drug also acts on the brain slower than other opioids being prescribed today. The Food and Drug Administration has given NKTR-181 a fast-track designation.

"Getting very high, very fast, is a mark of conventional high-risk, abused opioids," said Jack Henningfield, PhD, vice president at Pinney Associates and adjunct professor at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. "NKTR-181 represents a meaningful advance in the treatment of pain as the first opioid analgesic with inherent brain-entry kinetics that avoids this addictive quality of traditional opioids. This prevents the rapid 'rush' that abusers seek during the critical period immediately after dosing. Importantly, these properties of NKTR-181 are inherent to its molecular structure and are not changed through tampering or route of administration."


Prescription Opioid Addiction

So, if opioids are not going anywhere, less addictive and tamper resistant is a good start, at least. Opioid use disorder is major problem, and any effort to reduce the likelihood of addiction is paramount. In the meantime, pain patients should be leery about a doctor who is quick to resort to opioids before exhausting all other options.

If you have become addicted to your painkillers, please contact Celebrate Drug Rehab. We can help break the cycle of addiction and help you find ways to combat your pain without the use of opioids.

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