Solving the Opiod Painkiller Epidemic

Opioids are one of the most commonly prescribed medicine to treat severe chronic pain.

  • Addiction to and abuse of pharmaceutical opiates is a widespread and growing health issue
  • According to the Department of Health and Human Services prescription opioid overdoses killed more than 165,000 Americans between 1999 and 2014
  • Health and social costs of opiods are estimated as much as $55 billion a year
  • Opioid’s potential for serious side effects, including addiction and death necessitates developing alternate approaches to pain relief.

Safety and Efficacy of Medical Cannabis for Pain relief
The safety and efficacy of medical cannabis as a treatment of various types of severe and chronic pain has been established. 

  • A literature review of 38 studies evaluating medical cannabis’ efficacy for treating pain found that “71 percent concluded that cannabinoids had empirically demonstrable and statistically significant pain relieving effects, whereas 29 percent did not.”

  • A 2015 meta-analysis of 79 studies found a 30 percent or greater reduction of pain with the use of cannabinoids compared to placebos.

  • An analysis of a decade of randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trials on cannabis for treating pain concluded cannabis should be a first line treatment for patients with painful neuropathy and other serious and debilitating symptoms, who often do not respond to other available medications. 

Medical Cannabis as Substitute for Opiates
A growing body of evidence supports the use of medical cannabis as a substitute and adjunct to prescription opiates in the treatment of chronic pain.

  • A study in the Clinical Journal of Pain followed 176 chronic pain patients in Israel over seven months. Researchers found that 44 percent of them stopped taking prescription opioids within seven months after starting medical cannabis. 

  • Patients cited reasons for using cannabis instead of pharmaceutical drugs: 65% reported less adverse side effects, 57% cited better symptom management, and 34% found that cannabis had less withdrawal potential than their other medications.

A goal of NanoSphere Health Sciences is to help break the pain killer epidemic
NanoSphere Health is introducing a series cannabis extract products for relieving pain and inflammation with our clinical-tested, patent-pending NanoSphere Delivery System. They include both transdermal and intraoral formulations.  And will be sold with our precision-metered, microliter dose packaging system, which allows for standardized dosing and consistent usage. They represent a promising alternative to opioid drugs and solution to help reduce the morbidity and mortality associated with prescription opioid use and abuse.   



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4.    Hsu, J. Could Medical Cannabis Break the Painkiller Epidemic? Scientific American. September 1, 2016
5.    Kay, R.,  Holtzman, S. (2015). Substituting marijuana for prescription drugs, alcohol and other substances among medical marijuana patients: The impact of contextual factors. Drug and Alcohol Review.
6.    Lucas, P. Cannabis as an Adjunct to or Substitute for Opiates in the Treatment of Chronic Pain. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 44 (2), 125–133, 2012
7.    Marijuana and Opiates, Drug Policy Alliance, August 2016
8.    Powell, D., Pacula, R. L., & Jacobson, M.  Do Medical Marijuana Laws Reduce Addictions and Deaths Related to Pain Killers?   National Bureau of Economic Research. 2015
9.    Ramesh, D.; Owens, R. et al. Effects of chronic manipulation of the endo-cannabinoid system on precipitated opioid withdrawal. Presented at the 21st Annual Symposium on the Cannabinoids. International Cannabinoid Research Society, 2011 

Damon Collins