In a matter of years, people with chronic conditions may not have to choose between pain relief and risking addiction.
Experts agree that over-prescription of medications like oxycodone has been one of the main drivers of the current opioid epidemic.
The South Side’s Knopp Bioscience said over the next half decade, it will develop a pharmaceutical to regulate nerve cells, aimed at stopping excessive and erratic firing of pain signals. While opioids simply mask pain, focusing on nerve cells stops abnormal responses throughout the nervous system.
“In the long-term, if these are as effective as we think, as we hope they’re going to be, then you won’t need opioids,” said Knopp CEO Mike Bozik. “Or certainly a large segment of people won’t need opioids for chronic pain relief.”
This might benefit patients who are suffering from pain associated with conditions like diabetes and HIV, as well as injuries and surgery.
This research is being funded by an $8 million from the National Institutes of Health’s Helping to End Addiction Long-term initiative. The HEAL Initiative is funding research to improve chronic pain treatments and curb the rate of opioid use disorder and overdose.
Public health officials say this decline is likely due to distribution of naloxone, the medication that can revive someone from an opioid overdose. While opioid prescription rates have decreased, many opioid-related fatalities are linked to illicit substances such as heroin and fentanyl.
Pittsburgh Community Broadcasting Corporation board president Tom Petzinger is on the board of Knopp Biosciences.