Lab Makes Progress with Non-Opioid Pain Meds

( – Vertex Pharmaceuticals announced its new non-opioid pain drug for treatment of post-surgical discomfort passed its latest trials, effectively reducing pain. The drug beat placebo for reducing pain but failed to meet a secondary goal of doing a better job than the combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen (better known as Vicodin).

The drug’s temporary designation is VX-548. It works by interfering with pain signals at the site of the problem before they reach the brain. The news seemingly had a negative impact on their stock value which dipped 4%.

The market is hungry for non-opioid pain reducers which offer a safer alternative for people who have minor pain following a medical procedure but don’t want to risk using opioids. Opioids are narcotics which can be habit forming when used for any period of time.

Market watchers and pharmaceutical analysts predict that a successful non-opioid painkiller could rake in as much as $5 billion in annual sales, if it completes its trials and is FDA approved.

Medical analyst Christopher Raymond suggested that the drug isn’t anticipated to replace opioids but many people would prefer the option of having an alternative.

The current trial tested people’s responses to pain over a 48 hour period, an upcoming test will examine its effectiveness over a two-week period.

The drug is currently being tested on people who have had surgery on their toes for bunion removal or abdominoplasty otherwise known as a “tummy tuck.”

Opioid abuse is a very real problem in America with over 645,000 deaths being directly blamed on opioid abuse from 1999 to 2021, according to CDC data.

Raymond further said that the ideal would be something that was more effective at blocking pain than ibuprofen and acetaminophen, but not habit forming like narcotics.

These non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are commonly available for mild pain management over the counter, while opioids are strictly regulated.

Vertex said they plan to finalize their marketing application with the FDA before the end of this year.

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