Tuesday January 21, 2020

New Blood Test For Pain May Help Combat Opioid Epidemic

"We have developed a prototype for a blood test that can objectively tell doctors if the patient is in pain, and how severe that pain is," Alexander Niculescu, Professor of Psychiatry at Indiana University, said.

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"We have developed a prototype for a blood test that can objectively tell doctors if the patient is in pain, and how severe that pain is," Alexander Niculescu, Professor of Psychiatry at Indiana University, said. Pixabay

A one-of-its-kind blood test to measure pain in patients could open the door to precision medicine and help stem the tide of the opioid crisis, say researchers.

Until now, to assess pain – a subjective sensation – doctors had to rely on patients self-reporting or the clinical symptoms.

But the novel blood test can help objectively determine how severe a patient’s pain is, allowing physicians far more accuracy in treating it.

“We have developed a prototype for a blood test that can objectively tell doctors if the patient is in pain, and how severe that pain is,” Alexander Niculescu, Professor of Psychiatry at Indiana University, said.

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“The biomarker is like a fingerprint, and we match it against this database and see which compound would normalise the signature,” Niculescu said. Pixabay

With an opioid epidemic raging, Niculescu said never has there been a more important time to administer drugs to patients responsibly.

“The opioid epidemic occurred because addictive medications were overprescribed as there was no objective to measure whether someone was in pain, or how severe their pain was,” Niculescu said, in a paper detailed in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.

In addition to providing an objective measure of pain, the blood test helps physicians match the biomarkers in the patient’s blood with potential treatment options.

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Until now, to assess pain – a subjective sensation – doctors had to rely on patients self-reporting or the clinical symptoms. VOA

The researchers utilise a prescription database to match the pain biomarkers with profiles of drugs and natural compounds catalogued in the database.

“The biomarker is like a fingerprint, and we match it against this database and see which compound would normalise the signature,” Niculescu said.

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“We have been able to match biomarkers with existing medications, or natural compounds, which would reduce or eliminate the need to use the opioids.”

Moreover, the team discovered biomarkers that can also help predict when someone might experience pain in the future – helping to determine if a patient is exhibiting chronic, long-term pain, which might result in future emergency room visits. (IANS)

 

Next Story

Drug Companies Reach $215 Million Settlement to Avoid Trial over their Role in Deadly Opioid Addiction Crisis

The case has been viewed as a harbinger for similar lawsuits filed by more than 2,700 local and state governments across the country in hopes

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Summit county executive Ilene Shapiro speaks to the media outside the U.S. Federal courthouse, Oct. 21, 2019, in Cleveland. VOA

A major pharmaceutical company and three of the biggest drug distributors in the U.S. have reached a $260 million settlement with two counties in Ohio to avoid a trial over their role in the deadly opioid addiction crisis gripping America.

The deal, struck Monday, came just hours before the opening arguments in a court in Cleveland, Ohio. The case has been viewed as a harbinger for similar lawsuits filed by more than  2,700 local and state governments across the country in hopes of recouping damages from the crisis.

Drug distributors McKesson, Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen will pay $215 million in reparations. Israeli drug manufacturer Teva will pay $20 million in cash and also contribute $25 million worth of Suboxone, used to treat opioid addiction.

“People can’t lose sight of the fact that the counties got a very good deal for themselves, but we also set an important national benchmark for the others,” said Hunter Shkolnik, a lawyer for Cuyahoga County.

Drug, Companies, Opioid
The deal, struck Monday, came just hours before the opening arguments in a court in Cleveland, Ohio. Pixabay

Cuyahoga and Summit counties had brought the lawsuit that accused the four companies of fueling a nationwide opioid crisis.

According to U.S. government data, opioids have led to some 400,000 overdose deaths between 1997 and 2017.

Lawyers say the settlement will provide local governments with the finances needed to establish opioid-recovery programs.

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Attempts to reach a nationwide settlement broke down last week after cities and counties suing the drug companies rejected an offer of $48 billion in cash, treatment drugs and services. (VOA)