Chronic & Acute Pain
Pain affects more Americans than diabetes, heart disease and cancer combined. In the U.S., pain is the most common reason people seek healthcare. As reported by the National Institutes of Health, pain is a major contributor to healthcare costs, with chronic pain being the most common cause of long-term disability. The treatment of chronic pain, in particular, is a significant challenge.
Opioid medications are prescribed for many of the 50 million Americans with chronic pain to manage their pain, yet there is limited evidence to suggest that long-term use of opioids is effective for patients with chronic pain. New, safer treatment options for pain management are needed to improve quality of life and reduce the number of people exposed to the risks of opioids. There is a great need for new non-opioid orally delivered therapeutics for the treatment of chronic pain.
The global market for pain management therapeutics was estimated at $64 billion in 2020 with an annual growth rate of about 6.9 percent through 2028. In the past 20 years, only a handful of new analgesic drugs have emerged and a number of critical issues exist in drug treatment of chronic pain. Most existing analgesics for chronic are relatively ineffective, have a significant adverse effect profile or abuse liability and do not effectively reduce pain in all individuals. Primary drugs used to treat mild to moderate chronic pain include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) while narcotic opioid drugs are commonly used for moderate to severe pain. NSAIDs include aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen. The long-term use of NSAIDs is associated with significant adverse effects. An estimated 100,000 people suffer gastric damage each year from NSAIDs used in the U.S. and 16,500 deaths annually are associated with NSAIDs use.
The Opioid Crisis — A Silent Epidemic
Opioid pain relievers include drugs such as oxycodone (Oxycontin®) and hydrocodone. In the past two decades, opioid prescriptions have tripled in the U.S. Opioid drug use is linked to significant addiction and abuse liability, as well as additional adverse side effects. In addition to abuse liability, opioid drug use is associated with notable tolerance (less efficacious over time) and central nervous system (CNS) side effects. In 2016 alone, more than 20,000 deaths were associated with prescription opioid abuse. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have reported that overdose deaths from opioid pain relievers have exceeded the deaths involving heroin and cocaine combined.
The Next-Generation Analgesic
Algomedix is pioneering a novel approach based on blocking pain at its source in the peripheral nervous system. The molecular target for the new drug is located on the endings of specialized nerve fibers found throughout the body. In contrast to opioids and gabapentanoids, the drug does not need to enter the brain to provide pain relief. This non-opioid, non-NSAID drug has many advantages that are expected to solve the principal problems associated with the existing opioid, NSAID and gabapentanoid classes of analgesics, thus providing a next-generation medication for pain relief.
Acute pain affects millions of Americans. Acute pain is the most common cause of emergency room visits. More than 45 million Americans undergo inpatient surgery each year and experience acute surgical pain.
Opioids have been extensively used in the perioperative pain setting (before, during and after surgery) but are associated with a multitude of undesirable side effects. As such, there has been an increased push toward the use of multimodal pain therapy — using two or more analgesic agents with different mechanisms of action that target different spots in the pain pathway. This combination therapy approach is designed to utilize a synergistic effect and require the use of lower doses of medication. This approach has received strong support in the medical community, including the American Society of Anesthesiologists Task Force on Acute Pain Management which states: Whenever possible, anesthesiologists should use multimodal pain management therapy.