About Opioids and Pain Management
Pain is the most common symptom for which patients seek medical attention.(2) According to the American Pain Society, the prevalence of chronic pain in the United States is estimated to be 35.5% or 105 million people. Chronic pain conditions, such as osteoarthritis, back pain and cancer pain, affect at least 126 million adults in the U.S. annually and contribute to over $100 billion a year in direct health-care expenditures and lost work time.(2) Opioids are considered to be the most effective therapeutic option for pain and have over $10 billion a year in sales in the U.S. alone.(3,4) However, opioids cause significant problems for physicians and patients because of their serious side effects such as respiratory depression and sedation, as well as the risks they pose for addiction, abuse, misuse, and diversion. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has cited prescription opioid analgesics as being at the center of a major public health crisis of addiction, misuse, abuse, overdose and death.(5) A 2010 recent report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that emergency room visits tied to the abuse of prescription painkillers is at an all-time high, having increased 111 percent over a five-year period.(6)
Nektar Therapeutics is a biopharmaceutical company developing novel therapeutics based on its PEGylation and advanced polymer conjugation technology platforms. Nektar has a robust R&D pipeline of potentially high-value therapeutics in oncology, pain and other therapeutic areas. In the area of pain, Nektar has an exclusive worldwide license agreement with AstraZeneca for NKTR-118, an investigational drug candidate, which is being evaluated in Phase 3 clinical studies as a once-daily, oral tablet for the treatment of opioid-induced constipation. This license agreement also includes NKTR-119, an earlier stage development program that is a co-formulation of NKTR-118 and an opioid. NKTR-181, a novel mu-opioid analgesic, has completed Phase 1 development and is being prepared for a Phase 2 study. In oncology, NKTR-102 is being evaluated in a Phase 3 clinical study for the treatment of metastatic breast cancer and in Phase 2 studies for the treatment of ovarian and colorectal cancers.