Storm clouds are gathering around pharmaceutical manufactures of opioid prescription pain killers in the US because these drugs are linked to an emerging healthcare crisis. Opiate based pain killers currently remain the 'gold' standard for the treatment of many causes of severe pain due the lack of safe and effective alternatives. This is despite their well known limitations and the high proportion of patients suffering from side effects. Increasingly, the abuse potential of these medicines is seen as a key driver for what FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb has called a 'opioid epidemic and public health crisis'.
Opioid abuse and associated overdoses are now the leading cause of death for Americans under 50. According to the New York Times between 59,000 - 65,000 Americans died from overdoses in 2016 alone. In response to this crisis the continued high risk of abuse the US FDA has requested that Endo Pharmaceutical withdraws its painkiller OPANA ER from the market and a number of states are have filed or are considering lawsuits against the manufacturers of a number of these types of pain killers.
Given the dearth of compounds to provide safe relief of strong pain Nanomerics' NM127 a strong analgesic based on an endogenous peptide potentially offers an important alternative. NM127 does not show the habit forming potential observed with opiates. Recent studies suggest that increased levels of this peptide are the cause of the rare condition of congenital analgesia, an inability of individuals to feel pain and thus provide the key to the perception of pain in humans. Nanomerics and its NM127 programme has been shortlisted for the RSC's Emerging Technologies Competition June 13/14th.