The opioid epidemic sweeping the country is becoming a difficult problem to solve. Two years ago, the U.S. experienced the most drug overdoses on record with a majority involving opioids, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
One reason for this is that some experts believe there’s been a considerable uptick in prescribing painkillers where the strength of these drugs can force people to turn to heroin or similar illicit compounds to compensate when they run out. Politicians and lawmakers have discussed establishing plans to fight lax prescription standards or investing in more drug treatment and mental health services.
However, last week brought an intriguing bit of news regarding drugs that could combat this problem.
First, Indivior announced its candidate for combatting opioid dependence reached its primary endpoint and a key secondary outcome, reported FierceBiotech. The drug, RBP-6000, is a slow-release injection of buprenorphine that needs to be taken every month.
The Phase 3 study featured 489 patients with moderate to severe opioid disorder who sought medication to manage their conditions. Investigators initially gave patients a variant of buprenorphine called Suboxone, but then randomly gave the treatment groups either placebo or low or high doses of RBP-6000.
Testing lasted for 24 weeks in which Indivior asked patients about their opioid use and analyzed urine samples to find traces of the drug.
The primary study endpoint was reached when the company learned both treatment arms, “outperformed placebo against the combined urine sample,” according to FierceBiotech. A secondary outcome was reached when the investigators noticed the collected urine samples tested negative for opioids at least 80 percent of the time.
Also, a group of academic researchers announced they had developed safe opioid that could be a safer alternative to morphine.
A team of scientists from Stanford University, UC San Francisco, University of North Carolina, and Friedrich Alexander University, designed a novel compound, PZM21, that has the same potency as morphine but doesn’t have the ability to cause respiratory suppression.
The drug was tested in a group of mice where the creatures had demonstrated early signs of not succumbing to addiction with this drug. Still, there needs to be more research done on other animal subjects in order to determine this compound’s potency.
All of this could bode well. Indivior already has a fast-track designation for RBP-6000, but the positive results can help bolster its quest to get regulatory approval while the characteristics of PZM61 would provide relief for authorities, family members, and patients concerned about this growing issue.
Filed Under: Drug Discovery