Biological Psychiatry ( IF 12.095 ) Pub Date : 2019-06-29 , DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2019.06.017 Clifford J Woolf
The relatively high efficacy of opioids, which have associated risks of addiction, tolerance, and dependence, for the management of acute and terminal pain has been a major driver of the opioid crisis, together with the availability, overprescription, and diversion of these drugs. Eliminating opioids without an effective replacement is, however, no solution, as it substitutes one major problem with another. To deal successfully with the opioid crisis, we need to discover novel analgesics whose mechanisms do not involve the mu opioid receptor but that have high analgesic potency and low risk of adverse effects, particularly no abuse liability. The question is how to achieve this. There are several necessary elements; first, we need to understand the nature of pain and the mechanisms responsible for it, and second, we need to adopt novel and unbiased approaches to the identification and validation of pain targets.