Researchers Explore New Nonaddictive Means of Fighting Pain

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US News and World Report on 8/3/2023 by Amy Norton

THURSDAY, Aug. 3, 2023 (HealthDay News) — New research shows that an experimental drug fine-tuned to a specific pain pathway can ease post-surgery aches, a finding that may eventually offer an alternative to highly addictive opioids.

The pill, known for now as VX-548, targets a particular sodium channel that is active only in the body’s peripheral sensory nerves, where it helps transmit pain signals to the brain. The idea is that inhibiting the channel might ease pain without serious systemic side effects — including the risk of addiction and abuse associated with opioids.

In an early trial, researchers found some promising evidence that the drug can take the edge off of post-surgery pain.

Among 577 patients undergoing bunion surgery or tummy tucks, those given the highest dose of VX-548 got more pain relief over the next 48 hours, versus those given a placebo pills. And the side effects, mainly headache and constipation, were on the mild side.

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