With COVID dominating headlines for well over a year, you may not have noticed the worsening opioid crisis. Specifically in the United States where there has been a steep rise in overdose related deaths in the past 12 months. Data released by the National Centre for Health Statistics in July showed that in the year from December, 2019, to December, 2020 over 93,000 people died from drug overdoses, representing a 29·4% increase compared to the previous 12 months.
The opioid epidemic isn’t new. Since 1990 over half a million deaths have been attributed to opioid overdose. Most people begin their dependence on opioids following surgery where the drugs are prescribed as a method of pain management. Slowly, alternative medications are emerging to treat pain to circumvent the need for opioid prescription. One such treatment is Medlab’s (ASX: MDC) NanaBis™, a cannabinoid drug designed to treat cancer-induced bone pain, integrated with a patented drug delivery platform, NanoCelle® which improves drug solubility and absorption.
Medlab has received approval from the Australian Government to progress with Phase 3 clinical trials of NanaBis™. The Company has confirmed clinical research agreements with two Principal Investigators: Professor Stephen Clark of GenesisCare in Sydney and Professor Phillip Good of Mater Hospital in Brisbane.
Abroad, the National Institute of Health Research in the UK is supporting the trial and will be overseeing site selection and management of the trials. In the US, George Clinical has been appointed as Medlab’s clinical research organisation. With trial management teams in place within these two focus territories study sites can be confirmed and ethics committees can approve study plans.
Dr. Sean Hall, CEO, Managing Director and Founder of Medlab said: “The planned Phase 3 trial is gaining momentum, and it’s both reassuring and encouraging that even with the extensiveness of the COVID-19 limitations, we are moving forward faster than expected in this trying time.
“Prior to the COVID-19 global pandemic, opioids usage, addiction and abuse was very topical and media centric- in reviewing opioid use during this pandemic, it is highly conceivable that the opioid problem we witnessed prior to COVID-19 will pale in significance to what we see soon.”
Medlab’s Non-Executive Director, Drew Townsend echoed the sentiment, saying: “We can see a clear pathway to be extremely focused and driven to work with agencies like the TGA & FDA to provide medicinal solutions for patients and healthcare systems in this tough time addressing the ever-growing opioid crisis.”
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