Pain relief without risk of addiction or overdose?

Science Spotlight

Dozens of prescription medicine bottles in a jumble
Image by ©Shutterstock/David Smart

New preclinical NIDA-funded research shows that a new compound, BU08028, acts on opioid and non-opioid brain receptors to relieve pain without harmful side effects. In the study, primates experienced pain relief but did not become dependent upon BU08028, and in fact, found it less rewarding than cocaine and two different opioids.

The research also showed that doses of the compound 10-30 times higher than necessary for pain relief did not slow breathing or affect the heart—side effects that can typically lead to overdose death when opioids are misused. The new compound was made possible by recent advances in medicinal chemistry.

This research could provide relief for the approximately 100 million Americans suffering from chronic pain, while avoiding the serious health consequences of opioid misuse.

For a copy of the paper, "A novel orvinol analog BU08028 as a safe opioid analgesic without abuse liability in primates" published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, go to

For information about NIH-supported research on effective pain treatment, go to:

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About the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA): NIDA is a component of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIDA supports most of the world’s research on the health aspects of drug use and addiction. The Institute carries out a large variety of programs to inform policy, improve practice, and advance addiction science. For more information about NIDA and its programs, visit

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