The current opioid epidemic is the deadliest drug crisis in American history
Each year approximately 140,000 Americans become addicted to opioid medication through standard of care pain management. A substantial number of these end up dead. In 2016, overdoses killed roughly 64,000 Americans–more than guns, car accidents or breast cancer. In 2015, management of opioid dependence cost the U.S. healthcare system $504 billion. It is becoming clear that DEA regulations alone are not enough to solve this public health crisis.
Opioids still make up a huge share of the pain management market
Opioid and NSAID/COX2 therapies currently account for 52% of the pain management market--a $62 billion global market, with $30 billion spent each year in the United States alone and growing at a 4-5% CAGR. The non-opioid pain management market totaled $9.9 billion in 2017 and is estimated to reach $22.6 billion by 2022, partially due to the well documented dangers of opioid medications. The demand is high, yet leading therapies are widely known to be ineffective and dangerous. The US is currently facing a public health emergency due to the opioid crisis and is in urgent need of additional treatment options.
Opioids can be dangerous and often ineffective for chronic pain
While opioid therapies can provide acute pain relief for many patients, research has now shown them to be ineffective and dangerous when used for chronic pain. Poor efficacy in chronic pain, rapid tolerance, increasing dosages, and high rates of addiction have produced a national crisis. Even short-term administration of opioids can exacerbate pain over time and lead to high rates of addiction. Because opioid medications induce rapid tolerance they frequently require ever-increasing doses with severe, often lethal side effects. The risks associated with chronic NSAID use are also dangerous. They include stroke, acute MI, kidney failure and severe GI bleeding. Potent non-addictive pain management therapies are desperately needed.
Relieving Pain in America -- from The National Academy of Science
"Chronic pain can be a disease in itself. Chronic pain has a distinct pathology, causing changes throughout the nervous system that often worsen over time. It has significant psychological and cognitive correlates and can constitute a serious, separate disease entity."