American society seems to have a problem with tolerating pain. In recent years, the number of deaths from opioids has shot up to over 40,000 a year, or around 115 deaths per day. As the opioid epidemic continues, researchers and doctors look to develop safer and less addictive medications to treat pain. One of the possible new painkillers may be CBD or cannabidiol. In a recent study from NYU Langone Health, a new tablet containing CBD from the company Orcosa Inc. seemed to provide significant relief post-surgery, showing promise for the future of CBD as a pain reliever.
Background: CBD Tablets
More products containing cannabidiol have come on the market due to its popularity. These products are designed to treat issues like insomnia or anxiety. The life sciences company Orcosa Inc. is taking it one step further by creating a cannabidiol pain relief pill. Called ORAVEXX, this pill is designed to be non-addicting with cannabidiol as its main component. There are still ongoing trials to test the safety and effectiveness of this pill for the FDA. One of these studies includes the recent collaboration with NYU Langone Health.
Analysis: A Better Recovery from Pain
To test the effectiveness of ORAVEXX, the researchers randomly sorted 99 patients who had just had minor rotator cuff surgery and were between the ages of 18 to 75, into two different groups. One group received a placebo and the other received ORAVEXX. Before taking these pills, the participants began with a low close of Percocet, which they were weaned off of, and then given the pills afterward as part of the recovery process. After the first day, patients taking ORAVEXX reported 23% less pain than their counterparts. On the second day, the average was 25% greater satisfaction with pain levels by the ORAVEXX group versus the placebo group. The researchers also found that the active pill did not produce side effects usually associated with CBD use, like liver toxicity, nausea, and anxiety.
Outlook: Could CBD be the Next Big Painkiller?
“There is an urgent need for viable alternatives for pain management, and our study presents this form of CBD as a promising tool after arthroscopic rotator cuff repair,” explained the lead researcher and associate professor at NYU Langone Health, Dr. Michael J. Alaia. “It could be a new, inexpensive approach for delivering pain relief, and without the side-effects of anti-inflammatory drugs like NSAIDs and addiction risks linked to opiates. Additionally, CBD has the benefit of pain relief without the psychotropic effects associated with THC or marijuana.”
While CBD pills like ORAVEXX are showing promise as an alternative pain killer, the studies are still ongoing. Alaia and his team are designing a second study to test the effectiveness of ORAVEXX with osteoarthritis, hoping the pill will show significant pain relief there too. It will be some time before these pills are available for public consumption. As Alaia stated: “This is currently still experimental medicine and is not yet available for prescription.”
Kenna Castleberry is a staff writer at the Debrief and the Science Communicator at JILA (a partnership between the University of Colorado Boulder and NIST). She focuses on deep tech, the metaverse, and quantum technology. You can find more of her work at her website: https://kennacastleberry.com/