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Opioid crisis breakthrough: Non-addictive painkiller found effective

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Scientists have tested a non-addictive painkiller in primates and found it to be safe and effective. The fact that the compound was successful in a species so closely related to humans strengthens the findings, which could help solve the opioid public health crisis.

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A new and non-addictive painkiller may solve the U.S. opioid crisis.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) estimate that over 115 people in the United States die from an opioid overdose daily.

The origins of the opioid public health crisis can be traced back to the late 1990s, which was when physicians started prescribing opioid-based pain relievers such as hydrocodone (brand name Vicodin), oxycodone, morphine, codeine, fentanyl, and many others at a higher rate.

According to the NIDA, in 2015, over 33,000 U.S. individuals died from an opioid overdose and another 2 million were living with opioid abuse disorders. Currently, up to 29 percent of those who are prescribed the pain relievers end up abusing them.

The NIDA have also been supporting research efforts to develop alternatives to these highly addictive drugs. One such effort has recently proven successful.

A team of scientists led by Prof. Mei-Chuan Ko, of the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, NC, developed a non-addictive painkiller called AT-121.

The researchers have just tested the compound in a species of non-human primates called rhesus monkeys and published the results of their experiments in the journal Science 

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