Two Potential New Pain-Relieving Drugs on the Horizon

Karen Lee Richards Health Guide
  • I generally don't make a practice of reporting on new drugs that are still in the clinical trial phases of development because it takes so many years to bring a new drug to market and you never know what might happen to them along the way.  But there are two new drugs in the final phase of clinical trials that I find particularly interesting and promising.  Although it will still be at least three to five years before they might be approved, I thought you might like to know about them.

    Controlled-Release Hydrocodone

    The first is a controlled-release hydrocodone being developed by Zogenix, Inc.  Hydrocodone is the most widely prescribed drug in the U.S., but there are two things that make this new drug unique:

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    • It is just hydrocodone, with nothing added.  Currently you can only get hydrocodone combined with either acetaminophen or ibuprofen. 

    • It is a controlled-release formulation for people who require round-the-clock pain relief.  Right now, hydrocodone is only available in an immediate release formula.

    This new form of hydrocodone will offer a promising new treatment option for people with moderate to severe chronic pain. 


    Pfizer has developed a new drug called tanezumab.  It is a novel new concept in treating pain using a monoclonal antibody against nerve growth factor.

    Scientists have found that in response to some diseases and injuries, the body produces a protein called nerve growth factor (NGF).  NGF activates nerves that send pain signals to the brain and can change how these nerves transmit pain messages on a long-term basis. Basically, NGF acts as a pain amplifier.  Tanezumab works by neurtralizing NGF and stopping the amplified pain signal.   

    Thus far clinical trials have shown tanezumab to be effective in treating chronic lower back pain, osteoarthritis of the knee and interstitial cystitis.  Based on these findings, tanezumab shows potential for possibly treating a number of different chronic pain conditions. 

    Zogenix initiates pivotal phase 3 clinical trial for novel formulation of oral controlled-release hydrocodone . (2010, March 17). Zogenix Press Release
    Nicholson, Christie. Chronic pain relief . (2010, March 21). Scientific American. 


Published On: March 22, 2010