(DGIwire) – Nearly 50 million American adults have significant chronic pain or severe pain, according to a 2015 study conducted by the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health and reported in The Journal of Pain.
To combat this problem, opioid painkillers have been an increasingly popular option among physicians; according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the number of prescriptions for opioids has escalated from around 76 million in 1991 to nearly 207 million in 2013. Unfortunately this has contributed to an addiction crisis due to misuse and diversion.
In mid-March 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) took a bold step forward in addressing the opioid addiction crisis by issuing new recommendations to help prevent opioid misuse and overdose (“CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain, United States, 2016”), with the goal of helping primary care providers make informed prescribing decisions and improve patient care for those who suffer from chronic pain.
So what does that mean for someone who has chronic pain? The CDC recognizes that patients in pain should receive treatment “that provides the greatest benefits relative to risks” and that opioids are not the first-line therapy for chronic pain (except for those receiving active cancer treatment, palliative care, and end-of-life care). Instead, the agency has recommended non-pharmacologic therapies such as physical therapy and weight loss as well as several non-opioid options as first-line therapies that have been shown to be effective for particular diagnoses. For example, the CDC recommends tricyclic antidepressants, serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), gabapentin/pregabalin and topical lidocaine as first-line therapies for treating neuropathic pain, topical NSAIDs for treating localized osteoarthritis and topical capsaicin for musculoskeletal and neuropathic pain. The guidance notes that if a doctor does prescribe opioids, more frequent and extensive monitoring may be required.
“The publication of these CDC guidelines brings non-opioid options to the forefront of treatment modalities that primary care physicians are urged to consider when working with individual patients,” says Anthony P. Mack, CEO of SCILEX Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
“The CDC guidelines will give patients and their doctors the information they need to make more informed decisions about treatment of chronic pain,” adds Mr. Mack.
SCILEX is a pharmaceutical company focused on designing innovative technologies for the treatment of pain. The company’s first product is currently being evaluated for the treatment of PHN (post-herpetic neuralgia