Unfortunately, this non-centrally acting opioid will be effective only for localized pain, not chronic pain.
An experimental opioid drug designed to alleviate acute pain without the risk of abuse or addiction has “enormous” potential to treat some types of chronic pain, according to pain management experts.
The injectable analgesic – which for now has clunky name CR845 – was developed by Cara Therapeutics (NASDAQ: CARA), a Connecticut biopharmaceutical company. The company recently released the results of human abuse liability studies of CR845 on recreational drug users — who gave it very low scores for drug “liking” and making them feel “high.”
Unlike other narcotics, CR845 doesn’t act on opioid receptors in the brain and central nervous system – which can cause side effects such as respiratory depression, nausea, vomiting, and the euphoria that can lead to abuse and addiction. Instead, CR845 acts on receptors in nerve endings – in what is known as the peripheral nervous system
Cara Therapeutics hopes to begin Phase III clinical studies on CR845 in early 2015. If those efficacy studies are successful and it gets FDA approval – which could take years – the drug is most likely to be used as an injectable analgesic to treat acute pain caused by injuries or surgery.
But someday it could also become available in pill form to treat chronic pain.
“Initially this is going to be hospital based, for emergency rooms or acute care. But if it is effective as an analgesic, because of the low abuse potential this would be an enormous opportunity to (use) a safer, more effective analgesic that would avoid some of the rewarding properties of the current opioids. I would hope they would develop it.”
it most likely won’t be effective treating spinal pain or other types of chronic pain that originate in the central nervous system.
But even if CR845 is only approved for acute pain, Twillman says it could be a major step forward in reducing the risk of opioid addiction