Switching to Buprenorphine Might Provide Pain Relief for Poorly Controlled Pain

PainRelief.com Interview with:
Victoria D. Powell, MD, FACP
Clinical Lecturer – Geriatric and Palliative Medicine
University of Michigan
Staff Physician, Palliative Care
LTC Charles S. Kettles VA Medical Center
Ann Arbor, MI

Dr. Powell

PainRelief.com:  What is the background for this study?  What are the main findings?

Response: People with chronic pain who use long-term opioids face a number of health risks, and often do not have optimally controlled pain.

Buprenorphine acts on the opioid receptor with a different effect than drugs like morphine or oxycodone, and as a result is less associated with the risks of long-term opioid use, such as accidental overdose. While buprenorphine has been successfully used in patients with opioid use disorder for several years, certain experts have proposed using buprenorphine for pain management in people with chronic pain. We found low quality evidence supporting pain control that may be superior to traditional opioids, but much more research is needed to confirm.

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New Class of Drugs May Provide Pain Relief Without Need for Opioids

PainRelief.com Interview with:
John Traynor, PhD
Edward F Domino Research Professor
Professor and Associate Chair for Research
Department of Pharmacology, Medical School
Professor of Medicinal Chemistry, College of Pharmacy
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor MI

Dr. Traynor

PainRelief.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Response: Morphine and related drugs acting at the mu-opioid receptor are the most effective treatment for moderate to severe pain, yet their use is limited by serious on-target side effects including respiratory depression, and physical and psychological dependence that has led to the opioid crisis.  Current opioid drugs are required because our own endogenous pain relieving chemicals, the enkephalins and endorphins opioid peptides, cannot efficiently relieve pain.  

We have discovered a class of drugs (positive allosteric modulators, PAMs) that bind to the mu-opioid receptor to enhance the activity of endogenous opioids.  These “enkephalin amplifiers” afford pain relief in mouse models without the need for morphine-like compounds and do so with a much reduced side-effect profile.

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