The newly filed patent involves a novel chewing gum composition developed for the controlled release of cannabinoids and opioid agonists and/or antagonists for treatment of addiction and dependance. The chewing gum also has potential to be used for treatment of chronic pain.
AXIM® Biotechnologies is exploring how a functional chewing gum containing opioid agonists and antagonists and cannabinoids in an optimal balance can be used to decrease cravings and reduce withdrawal symptoms in patients suffering addiction or dependence to opioids and possibly even lower our reliance on opioids as effective painkillers.
The news of AXIM®’s recent patent filing and the company’s intention to apply to the FDA this year to begin human trials has already been featured in articles from media outlets like Reuters and CNBC. In the wake of America’s historic opioid crisis, developments like this out of AXIM® Biotechnologies to find a cure for painkiller and heroin addiction are welcome.
Opioid agonists activate the opioid receptors in the brain resulting in the full opioid effect. Examples of full opioid agonists include painkillers like hydrocodone, morphine, and oxycodone, as well as drugs like heroin. All opioid agonists to one degree or another have negative side effects such as decreased respiratory drive which may lead to asphyxia, nausea and vomiting, pneumonia, and constipation.
Alternatively, an antagonist is a chemical that blocks or dampens agonist-mediated responses. Opioid antagonists block opioids by attaching to the same opioid receptors without activating them. Thus, the negative side effects of opioid agonists are diminished. Negative effects and cravings can be reduced using cannabinoids.
This patent application is the first step in creating a cannabinoid-based treatment for opioid addiction. By providing replacement opioids such as opioid agonists and/or antagonists and cannabinoids in a chewing gum form, AXIM® Biotechnologies aims to minimize dependency and the effects of opioid withdrawal in patients.
There has been a strong call from both the medical community and the American public for a solution to the opioid epidemic rocking our nation. Cannabinoids may be the solution for which we are looking.
Recently, a panel of cannabis experts and medical professionals agreed that cannabis shows promise as a safer and more effective alternative to opioids at the first-ever World Medical Cannabis Conference and Expo.
The members of the “From Opioids to Cannabis” panel discussed the gravity of the nation’s opioid epidemic, an epidemic that claims the lives of 91 Americans every day. These experts also revealed evidence that suggests cannabis can help.
Studies indicate that cannabis could help solve the opioid crisis. Cannabis shows efficacy for pain management yet, according to the DEA, has never caused a fatal overdose, making it a safe alternative in light of opioids. Nearly all of the 28 states that have passed comprehensive medical marijuana laws allow cannabis to be recommended for the treatment of pain, and they have seen their rates of opioid overdose deaths decrease as a result.
A study conducted by Dr. Yuyan Shi at the University of California, San Diego, examined the rates of hospitalizations involving opioid dependence or abuse compared to when the states in the U.S. with legalized medical marijuana implemented their laws.
Dr. Shi discovered states saw a 23 percent decrease in hospitalizations related to opioid dependence or abuse and a 13 percent reduction in hospitalizations related to opioid pain reliever overdose after their medical marijuana policies were implemented.
Dr. Bruce Nicholson believes one avenue for combating the opiate misuse problem is for physicians to recommend cannabis instead. In a recent opinion editorial, Nicholson made the argument that “medical marijuana is a safe, non-addictive option.”
Research suggests that marijuana can reduce the intake of opioids and potentially treat addiction, prompting researchers to encourage doctors to recommend cannabis rather than opioids.
“Cannabis has made an incredible breakthrough as a legitimate medication for patients suffering from pain,” wrote Nicholson. “Several studies have produced substantial results showing that cannabinoids – the chemical compounds found in marijuana – reduce pain and are approximately 20 times more potent than aspirin as an anti-inflammatory.”
Findings in a study published in Journal of Pain Research indicate that individuals are already using cannabis to replace prescription drugs. Nearly half of respondents reported using cannabis in place of prescription medications – using cannabis in place of pain-relieving narcotics and opioids at the highest rate.
Currently, two-thirds of Americans believe opioid prescription drugs like Vicodin and OxyContin are “riskier” to use than cannabis for pain management. According to a poll by Yahoo News and The Marist Poll, only one in five Americans polled consider cannabis to be riskier than opioids, while the remaining 13 percent responded that they were unsure.
With both public opinion and medical evidence shifting against opioid-based medications, Americans are turning to cannabinoids as both a treatment option both for pain and for addiction.
“Opioid addiction is a serious global problem that affects the health, social, and economic welfare of all societies. Opioid addiction therapy depends on a variety of techniques. One of them is the replacement therapy, where an opioid is replaced with another less potent and less addictive opioid that curbs the craving and reduces withdrawal symptoms, while maintaining the person’s mental state such that the person is still able to function normally,” said George E. Anastassov, MD, DDS, MBA and Chief Executive Officer of AXIM Biotech.
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