The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee is working on a new pain medication to treat pain so patients don't have to turn to stronger drugs like opioids, that could ultimately cut back on opioid addiction.
“It’s not just being able to treat pain in a better, more effective way for patients, but it's also to reduce the reliance on opioids that we know is a big problem,” said Dr. Douglas Stafford, Director of Milwaukee Institute for Drug Discovery.
The pain pill would help those with neuropathic pain.
“Neuropathic pain is the needle, which like sticks in and is occurring not only when you're awake, but also when you try to sleep," said Dr. Alexander Arnold, Associate Professor in Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.
Researchers are focused on those with chronic pain.
“Often associated with diabetes, most people understand diabetes, nerve pain with shingles type infection, HIV infection, with cancer,” Stafford said.
This type of pain is very difficult to treat.
“While there are medications that are out there anti depressant drugs, anti epileptic drugs, those often don't provide relief to patients and because they don't provide relief patients are often given opioids or strong opioids and there in lies really a big problem that we want to avoid,” Stafford said.
Research for the pain pill is based at UWM, but help is coming from contributors around the world.
“We are trying to come up with the next experiments to carry out to figure out what kind of medication we want to develop in order to be very safe on the side of a pain medication,” Arnold said.
Researchers are making progress, but the new pain pill is still years away from being in the public's hands.