Opioid Use Disorder

The Scope

The Global Ripple Effect of Opioid Use Disorder

The effects of opioid use disorder are far reaching and devastating for communities globally. Not only does it affect the people stuck in the cycle of addiction, it impacts their families and communities at large. It’s estimated over 26 million people worldwide are struggling with opioid use disorder, with over 100,000 deaths occurring every year from overdoses. The current opioid crisis has grown to such a degree that governments at all levels have been forced to take action.  

The Canadian federal government recently announced the appointment of a new mental health and addictions ministry following a surge in opioid overdose cases at the beginning of 2021, with 1,772 deaths occurring between January and March. With 20 people dying each day, this was a 63% increase from the same time period in 2020, according to the government website 

The Progression

Addiction Begins with Withdrawal

From nonmedical opioid users to pain patients, the opioid crisis is affecting everyone.  

One of the biggest barriers to getting treatment for opioid use disorder and opioid dependence is the fear of experiencing debilitating withdrawal symptoms. These are experienced by all people on the opioid use spectrum who have developed a physical dependence, and can contribute greatly to relapse.  

Opioid Withdrawal as a Lived Experience

“I’m a healthy 62-year-old man and have tried to stop taking this medication, but the withdrawal symptoms are awful… I have nothing to lose…”

“I can’t live this way, and I know many, many people who feel the same… It’s like the new cancer.”

“We’ve been through every step, every program, every rehab. Not one of them is working successfully. In the end, your physical pain and the opiate withdrawal just kill all attempts at rehabilitation.”

The timeline for the onset of peak withdrawal symptoms

Last dose
The clock starts
Time of last dose

The individual takes their last opioid dose. 

Short-acting opiates
6-12 hours

The effects of short-acting opiates begin to wear off. 

Long-acting opiates
30 hours

The effects of long-acting opiates begin to wear off. 

Symptoms peak
72 hours

Symptoms of opioid withdrawal peak and individuals may experience nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, diarrhea, goose bumps, depression, and drug cravings. 

Current Interventions

Creating a Gap for Patients Worldwide

Current interventions to treat opioid withdrawal symptoms rely on long-acting opioid medications that affect normal nervous system function, creating a vicious cycle of treating opioid withdrawal with more opioids. Non-opioid pharmacological options for treating withdrawal are limited, have proven to be largely ineffective, and are known to cause serious side effects. 

Consequently, less than 30% of patients on opioid replacement therapies achieve abstinence, creating a huge unmet need for millions of people all over the world. Having safe and effective interventions that reduce withdrawal can break the cycle of opioid use.  

Discovering New Solutions

How AphioTx’s Innovative Treatment Can Help Tackle the Opioid Crisis

Researchers have identified an important protein channel on a group of immune cells in the brain and spinal cord that plays a key role in treating opioid withdrawal symptoms. This channel is called pannexin-1 

AphioTx is developing a clinically approved, safe and effective treatment that targets the pannexin-1 protein, closes the channel, and helps to alleviate opioid withdrawal symptoms. This therapy is currently in ongoing phase 2a clinical trials.  

The potential to introduce this safe treatment option to patients could fill a huge unmet need for the global opioid crisis, breaking the cycle of addiction debilitating withdrawal symptoms can cause. Whether patients are dependent or addicted to opiates, AphioTx’s groundbreaking treatment has the potential to change and save lives.  

Development Pipeline

Developing Effective Therapies

AphioTx currently focuses our research efforts on three key areas; 

  1. Opioid Addiction
  2. Chronic Pain
  3. Cognitive Impairment

We have an integrated and rigours approach to advance the most effective compounds to therapy.

Working together
To Fight the Opioid Crisis

Interested in working together to fight the opioid crisis? Contact us to learn more about opportunities with AphioTx.