No new analgesics in 50 years

Yes, there hasn’t been any new development of analgesics during the last 50 years. Quite a provocative title! A single author article in one of the leading journals for anesthesiologists specializing in the treatment of pain. What does the author exactly say?

A lack of real breakthrough drugs

103160466-Darwin-Brandis-Dreamstime-INP chemokuur opioden neuropathische pijnHe identified fifty-nine analgesics introduced in the period 1960 to 2009 and analyzed these drugs.

  • Seven of these drugs he regarded as having novel molecular targets, but he stated: however, only one, sumatriptan, was sufficiently effective to motivate the introduction of many similar drugs acting at the same target (triptans).

Much literature focused on morphine, not a very new drug indeed. I am reminded of the title of a publication: a Drug is the cause of Many New Publications, or. a paper is the result of putting a drug in a rat. This is also the authors’ idea, if I may quote him:

  • Very intensive research efforts directed at diverse molecular targets related to pain mechanisms produced thousands of publications, but those efforts have not yet yielded new analgesics with sufficient effectiveness to change the share of publications on opioids or non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs.

Morphine and aspirin dominate

Morphine and aspirin both age-old drugs continue to dominate biomedical publications, though for neuropathic pain these drugs do not have much to offer.

The author concludes that there is a  “lack of real breakthroughs in analgesic drug development despite intense research efforts. Possible factors contributing to the apparent drought of novel analgesics are discussed”.[1]

Institute for Neuropathic Pain (INP)

This site helps patients and treating physicians, neurologists, anesthesiologists and other pain specialists to find the best and most up to date research findings related to neuropathy and neuropathic pain and the treatment thereof.

In our Institute we are specialized in treating patients suffering from neuropathic pain and neuropathy following an Integrated Medicine concept. Part of our activities are within the field of consultation. We assist pharmaceutical companies in R&D strategies related to finding new drugs to treat neuropathic pain and neuropathy.

March 2010, Jan M. Keppel Hesselink, MD, PhD
‘No new analgesics in 50 years’

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[1] Kissin I. | The development of new analgesics over the past 50 years: a lack of real breakthrough drugs. | Anesth Analg. | 2010 Mar 1;110(3):780-9.

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