Pain Management: A Need for Innovation
Medicines for acute and chronic pain management have not fundamentally changed for over 50-100 years! Mu opioids (e.g. morphine, oxycodone, hydrocodone), NSAIDs (e.g. aspirin, ibuprofen) and acetaminophen account for over 80% of the drugs taken for pain management.
- The first mu opioid, morphine, was discovered in 1803.
- The first NSAID, aspirin, was launched in 1899.
- Subsequent NSAIDs like indomethacin and ibuprofen were discovered in the 1950s and launched in the 1960s.
- Acetaminophen was launched in the 1950s.
There has been modest improvements in these drug classes over the years since the first products launched; however, the drugs taken today still fundamentally work in the same manner and have similar side effects and problems as the drugs that were discovered and launched 50 to 100 years ago. It is time for a fundamental change in the way we manage pain.
Working to Fundamentally Change Pain Management
Cara Therapeutics is looking to fundamentally change pain management. Instead of focusing our efforts on modestly improving old compounds, Cara is developing a completely new class of medicine called Kappa Opioid Receptor Agonists (KORAs). KORAs target a completely different receptor in the body, the kappa opioid receptor, to treat pain in a fundamentally new way. Our lead pipeline product, CR845, is a peripherally acting KORAs. To date, CR845 has shown in Phase 2 clinical trials promising pain relief without many of the traditional side effects that you see mu opioids (morphine, oxycodone and hydrocodone) and NSAIDs (ibuprofen).
Pruritus (Itch) Management: A Major Unmet Need
Similar to the treatments for pain management, there has been very little innovation in medicines that specifically treat patients’ pruritus or itch. The mainstays for treating itch today are still corticosteroids and antihistamines. The first corticosteroids and antihistamines (like diphenhydramine or Benadryl) were discovered and launched in the 1940s. There have been modest improvements in these drug classes in the subsequent years, but the products utilized today are very similar in action and side effects as those used over 50 years ago.
Working to Fundamentally Change Pruritus (Itch) Management
Cara Therapeutics is also looking to fundamentally change pruritus (itch) management. Cara is developing a completely new class of medicine called Kappa Opioid Receptor Agonists (KORAs). KORAs target a completely different receptor in the body, the kappa opioid receptor, to treat itch in a fundamentally new way. Our lead pipeline product, CR845, is a peripherally acting KORAs. To date, CR845 has shown in Phase 2 clinical trials promising improvements in itch relief in a very difficult to treat itch condition called uremic pruritus, an itch that develops in Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) and in particular dialysis patients.