Scientists Find New, Non-Addictive Opioid Painkiller Compound

Scientists Find New, Non-Addictive Opioid Painkiller Compound

By Staff

The quest for a non-addictive opioid analgesic that doesn’t cause respiratory problems with increased doses has been a target of scientists for decades.

Did someone find something new?

In today’s edition of the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center published findings on a new pain-killing compound (called BU08028) is not addictive and does not have adverse respiratory side effects like other opioids.

“Based on our research, this compound has almost zero abuse potential and provides safe and effective pain relief,” Mei-Chuan Ko, Ph.D., lead author of the study and professor of physiology and pharmacology at Wake Forest Baptist said. “This is a breakthrough for opioid medicinal chemistry that we hope in the future will translate into new and safer, non-addictive pain medications.”

The study included 12 primates, and targeted a combination of classical mu opioid peptide (MOP) and non-classical nociceptin-orphanin FQ peptide (NOP) opioid receptors. Ko and his colleagues examined behavioral, physiological and pharmacologic factors and demonstrated that BU08028 blocked the detection of pain without the side effects of respiratory depression, itching or adverse cardiovascular events.  With respect to pain relief for the primates, it lasted up to 30 hours and repeated administration of the compound did not cause physical dependence.

“To our knowledge, this is the only opioid-related analgesic with such a long duration of action in non-human primates,” Ko added. “We will investigate whether other NOP/Mop receptor-related compounds have similar safety and tolerability profiles like BU08028, and initiate investigational new drug-enabling studies for one of the compounds for FDA’s approval.”

The study, “A novel orvinol analog, BU08028, as a safe opioid analgesic without abuse liability in primates,” can be found here: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

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Authored by: Staff

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Tamara Morgan

I must agree with Judy (Aug 30th above). I’ve tried many alternative therapies and non-opioid drugs without relief for spinal stenosis- sponylolisthesis and arachnoiditis. I don’t want opioids to die- (overdose)- I want them to improve the quality of my life so that I can actually live it. It turns out that the statistics done pertaining to the “epidemic” of opioid deaths didn’t actually
specify if the overdoses were from pain medicines that were prescribed or if the death due to overdose was of a chronic pain patient- everything was lumped together with heroin: overdoses In this modern age of “evidence based practice”- why are the research based FDA and the CDC blind to their own blatant errors in data collection and interpretation? The DEA follows their lead and yet “Big Pharma” just keeps pumping out stronger “abuse deterrent” drugs (that really are not)? I just can’t grasp the “agenda” of these agencies- all the while completely ignoring the ramifications their incorrect analyses ultimately have on people legitimately suffering who could actually have a much higher quality of life if it weren’t for the all the misinformation fed to the DEA and physicians in our country.

Desiree Loutitt

I’ve been a ‘guinea pig’ for the University of Alberta hospital on two occasions, and have suggested leaving my insides to them when I finally go ‘home’…. I’m waiting to hear the answer. Stay tuned…I also gave them their opening statement for their address when the new Diabetes Treatment and Research Centre was opened….I didn’t receive, and didn’t really care…any recognition, but I don’t know if they are even looking into my findings, which are firm, fast and they totally agreed with me. If you don’t have those precious letters behind your name, your are ‘up a stump’….mind you, my chronic pain doctor was a rebel, as was the doctor from England who finally did a study on Adhesive Arachnoiditis….and they were just ostracized! I think we should take a page from ‘Legally Blonde’ and march on the United Nations….at least we would all get to meet each other, that’s about all the good it would do! Keep Looking Up Folks!

Kristen Wiggins

You know what would be really great? Something that’s natural and as effective as opiates but without the addiction potential or respiratory depression. Oh wait – we already have that! It’s called kratom and it comes from a tree and the DEA just took it away. Hmmm…I wonder why they did that?

Those of us in the chronic pain community will not give in to the government infringement on our personal freedoms. Join the fight!!

I have a painful connective tissue disorder called Ehlers Danlos Syndrome and #iamkratom.


Wow, a non opioid medication for pain pops up just as Kratom a natural plant that is God given, helps many people, and is non addictive gets put on the DEA’s hit list. Dollars make the world go round and Big Pharma is the man behind the plot! BOOOO!!!!

Karen Leidy

It is very interesting that this article comes out just as the DEA is going to make Kratom a schedule 1 drug. Kratom is natural, safe, and the only thing that has helped me. Keep your rxs and their side effects. Rxs have been dangerous in my life. For God’s sake, I have had to take rxs to overcome side effects from other rxs. Kratom does not do that. I have multiple physical problems with major chronic pain and kratom has allowed me to have better days with no side effects and no altered perceptions.


We are being moved, slowly but surely into a Utopian society/ regime~survival of the fittest. This “wonder drug” will either dissapear, or be prohibitively expensive, so that only the elite will be able to get access to it. I’m a realist, not a doomsdayer or negative person, and this handwriting has been on the wall for years~ God bless all in chronic pain xx

Desiree Loutitt

Along with Adhesive Arachnoiditis…(both the chemical and mechanical) I suffer from Multiple Lipomatosis….and I’ve had a condition for years that blessed me with an incredible pain threshold, but the flip side is that medication, not only pain meds, but even antibiotics, quit on me. I’ve been a part of International Studies, and worked with World Renowned Chronic Pain Specialists, and observed what a lot of these meds do to our livers/kidneys/stomachs, etc., seeing them in formaldehyde. I was finally put on Methadone…and the tests that I went through to be put on this was remarkable. Then to find out that only a small portion of the medical community can prescribe it, and because of the ‘drug replacement’ programs, many are reluctant to do so. But…with it, I could take it and not be impaired…I’d seen people come into the Pain Clinic ‘ripped’ on other meds, and they’d driven themselves there…10 years of studies, by the team of doctors I was working with showed that it did little to no damage to the organs mentioned, and like one of the doctors said, “Most doctors don’t give the human brain enough credit”! I’ve been on it now for 20 years, and managed to reduce my dosage (myself, as the doctors here said I’d go through major withdrawals…NOT)…to one tenth of what they’d prescribed the minute it went into pill form. Now they’ve put it on the ‘hit list’, and if I don’t move to a major city, I can’t be prescribed Methadone for pain. If I get hooked on another pain med I can use it to get off of it, but not for pain. Now where is the justice in this?…and who are the idiots?


Hmmm…funny how one thing goes up for a ban, (that thing being natural, non addictive, and works better than morphine) and then this just happens to pop up. Way to go Big Pharma. I’m sure this will really hit the news soon. This makes me sick.

I take Tramadol three times a day , when I first started they helped a lot ,but now my knees are worse so the Tramadol doesn’t take the pain away it helps very little but it’s better than nothing. I don’t find it addictive. I’m hoping to see my pain management DR. In two weeks I hope he can do something to help me. It is a terrible thing to live with pain every day most nights no sleep because of the pain. Tried turmeric pills and I tried instaflex and it didn’t work I tried ginger tea and it didn’t work. I even had the gel shots and it didn’t work .


I agree with most everything others have already said. It is impossible to believe in or trust the Pharma or Goverment/CDC/FDA, etc…….. whatever gets involved and thinks they know how we feel. And all the new drugs being spit out so fast and then months later advertisements are on TV about contacting Lawyers about possible side effects? Who wants something that has not been out for many years?


It would be great if we could find an opioid painkiller that helps with the pain, and doesn’t get you hooked on it..


This is getting ridiculous. I’m a chronic pain patient and without some relief it would lead to me doing something I don’t want to. The pain is too overbearing and I’m sick of the government, doctors telling us deal with it. I want to live my life not take thousands of pills to die. Opiods aren’t deadly it’s the person abusing them that is playing with fire. Also if you are under a doctor’s care and taking opiods you aren’t allowed to get a script anytime you want or your insurance company won’t pay for any pain meds before the date of a refill. Idk why everyone is so scared of opiods, they are here to help us pain sufferers to have some quality of life back into our lives.


I read a couple of years ago that somehow someone had unlocked the secret to making a painkiller from yeast- wonder what has ever become of this?


It doesn’t matter if it works or not, if it’s addictive or not, you will not be able to get it so what’s the use in getting excited? They have restricted pain management doctors and patients to the point where we can’t get relief, much less a new drug that might actually work. Pardon my disdain at the whole thing but the government has decided that my collapsing spine and surgical fusion failure aren’t painful, and millions of others in far worse shape than me go without relief because some politician decides how badly you are hurting. It’s a great thing if this new compound works, but we probably won’t ever get to see for ourselves because they will find some reason to not approve it or make it impossible to get. Sorry for the pessimism but that’s just how it is if you’re a chronic pain patient, they don’t care about you or your pain. I hope their new discovery is as good as they hope and I really do hope someday it helps people…I’m not holding my breath.


How do the non human primates express their pain values? And what is the root cause of their pain to begin with? Animal testing is not the same as himan testing, and I hate to think of what they do to these animals to get these test results


Such a thing would be fantastic, however anything likened to tramadol doesn’t pique my interests too much. Tramadol is completely ineffective in most pts actually needing opiod medications, and turns out it’s not so safe after all.


I too am skeptical. I believe it will eventually happen but not in my lifetime.

We need a message board/FM forum.


Sadly, it seems that the same thing was said about Demerol, codeine, methadone, and Tramadol before they were brought into use. Excuse me if I remain a tad skeptical.

Yeah, well, don’t get too excited just yet. Tramadol and zolpidem were billed as non-addictive and safe when they first came out, too. It didn’t take too long before we learned that wasn’t necessarily so.

Although potentially-encouraging, we are a long way from realizing the touted promise of this class of molecules. Twelve monkeys is a movie title, not a quantum leap for treating pain in humans.