Two Drugs Are Coming to Help – Without the Opioid Addiction Risk
Since the population of America is aging at an exponential rate – the number of Americans ages 65 and older is projected to more than double by 2060 – and in keeping with the osteoarthritis/non-narcotic chronic pain relief theme of our last blog entry, let’s talk about Tanezumab and Fasinumab as they relate to aging and chronic pain.
Over 27 million Americans suffer from osteoarthritis and 23 million live with chronic low back pain – and many of these individuals don’t get significant pain relief from their conditions. Pfizer, in partnership with Eli Lily, has been working on a drug called Tanezumab, which is a nerve growth factor (NGF) inhibitor.
How Tanezumab Relieves Pain without Opioids
As a monoclonal antibody, Tanezumab selectively targets, binds to, and inhibits NGF. NGF regulates pain signals, increasing in the body when there is injury, inflammation, and chronic pain. Because Tanezumab inhibits NGF, pain signals may be prevented from reaching the brain and spinal cord. This is the first such drug “fast tracked” by the FDA, which makes clear there is considerable promise for pain relief.
On July 18,2018, Pfizer and Eli Lilly announced positive results from a Phase 3 clinical trial evaluating tanezumab for the treatment of osteoarthritis (OA) pain. There was only a 1% discontinuation rate due to adverse events. Patients who took two doses of Tanezumab separated by 8 weeks reported significant improvements in their pain levels and physical function.
If this promising drug should be approved, it will be the first in a new class of non-opioid pain relievers and a key alternative for those taking opioids or who are not getting enough pain relief from current medications.
Fasinumab: Another Non-Opioid Pain Reliever Under Testing
Fasinumab, another drug in the same class that you may hear about, is made by Regeneron and has also been in clinical trials. Unfortunately, the company had to halt clinical trials earlier this year after a monitoring committee found a negative risk-benefit outcome. Regeneron has had issues with high doses of the drug in the past, as well.
They plan to re-start clinical trial with a lower dose of the medication, as recommended by the monitoring committee, because Fasinumab DOES show promise.
A huge benefit of these medications, should they be approved for use, is the potential to reduce Americans’ intake of opioid-based medications – which have high rates of misuse – for chronic pain relief, while at the same time providing more pain relief than the opioids.
We’ll keep you updated on related news!