Millions of Patients Suffer from Chronic Pain
The most common causes of chronic pain in the United States are chronic lower back pain, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. In fact, back pain is the leading cause of disability in Americans under 45 years old. More than 26 million Americans between the ages of 20-64 experience frequent back pain. In addition to back pain, the inflammatory conditions of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis affect over 20 million Americans. The market for chronic pain treatments is extremely large estimated at over 100 million prescriptions annually.
The treatment choices for chronic pain conditions in the United States range from acetaminophen, NSAIDs and COX-2 inhibitors to traditional long-acting mu-opioid analgesics. Each of these modalities provides efficacy to varying degrees, but each has its share of undesirable side effects such as hepatoxicity (acetaminophen), GI and CV concerns (NSAIDs / COX-2s) and nausea/vomiting, sedation, respiratory depression and euphoria/abuse/addiction (mu opioids). Because of these side effects, there is a significant opportunity for a novel analgesic that is effective in managing chronic pain conditions while minimizing these significant side effects.
The Need for a Truly Novel Analgesic for Chronic Pain
Despite the fact that there are literally hundreds of medicines for chronic pain management, many patients still experience inadequate pain relief as well as significant side effects with their medications. Non opioid pain medication like NSAIDs (e.g. ibuprofen) and acetaminophen frequently don’t provide enough pain relief and sometimes produce significant side effects like gastrointestinal bleeding, cardiovascular issues (NSAIDs) or hepatotoxicity (acetaminophen).
Centrally-acting mu opioids (e.g. morphine, oxycodone, hydrocodone), a mainstay of chronic pain management, also have significant issues. Although generally effective, mu opioids frequently produce significant side effects like nausea/vomiting, dizziness, sedation and respiratory depression (slow or stopped breathing) that can lead to patients stopping therapy. Additionally, the significant increase in mu opioid therapy for chronic pain has triggered an opioid abuse epidemic in the United States with nearly 19,000 people dying from mu opioid overdose in 2014 alone.
The patients who live with chronic pain and the clinicians who treat it are desperately in need of a new novel analgesic that will work differently than mu opioid, NSAID or acetaminophen, and provides pain relief without the significant side effects you find in yesterday’s and today’s medicines.