New Legislation Takes Aim at the Opioid Crisis

(DGIwire) – Many Americans have come to the realization that the opioid crisis can only be effectively addressed through a massive effort that involves government action. These days, the U.S. government is gearing up for more effective measures that can have the most positive impact on the greatest number of stakeholders.

In April 2018, the U.S. Senate health committee released a draft of bipartisan legislation to address the opioid crisis. According to a Senate press release, the Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018 is designed to improve the ability of the Departments of Education, Labor and Health and Human Services to address the crisis, including its ripple effects on children, families and communities, as well as to improve data sharing among states.

The aims of the Act include spurring the development of non-addictive painkillers and other strategies to prevent, treat and manage pain and substance use disorders. It also calls for clarifying the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s development and regulatory pathways for medical product manufacturers through guidance for new non-addictive and non-opioid pain products.

“The fact that the U.S government is stepping up its efforts to seek alternatives to opioid-based pain management is encouraging,” says Tony Mack, CEO of Virpax Pharmaceuticals. “This trend is reflected by positive steps being taken within the medical research community to innovate the use of topical pain medications as a viable substitute for opioid treatment.”

As noted by various Senate health committee members quoted in the press release, the government response to the opioid crisis needs to be urgent and effective. Families and communities have demanded, and deserve, additional serious federal action to support and strengthen their efforts on the front lines of the crisis.

Far from the halls of government, medical companies such as Virpax are seeking to become players in this endeavor as well. Through Tony’s leadership, the company is studying the use of new transdermal and topical drug delivery systems to advance how patients and physicians are able to manage pain without opioids. For example, the company has licensed a patented aerosol-based system—a “Patch-in-a-Can®”—that is designed to deliver non-opioids such as NSAIDs for the transdermal treatment of acute pain in a metered-dose spray.

Thinner than a standard liquid bandage, the aerosol spray is invisible and dries on the skin. It can be configured for an immediate-release or extended formulation, so a drug can be delivered either at once or over a span of time that can range from 12 to 48 hours. As a spray, this formulation manages to avoid the mess of creams or gels that can be rubbed off by clothing or physical contact.

“Wherever the research goes from here, the overarching goal will remain the same—to ensure that those dealing with acute and chronic pain have a full range of treatment options open to them with minimal safety and addiction risk,” Mack adds.