Failed Lilly osteoarthritis drug could treat opioid addiction, says study

Mar 02, 2018

A new study from Indiana University suggests that an Eli Lilly compound previously tested to treat osteoarthritis pain may prevent opioid tolerance and physical dependence when used in combination with opioid-based pain medications.

Researchers found that the compound, which was discontinued in osteoarthritis pain trials because the the drug lacked efficacy, appears to block neuropathic pain and decrease signs of opioid dependence. The drug's use in treating other kinds of pain and lessening opioid dependence had not been tested before.

Researchers experimented on mice, combining a low dose of the experimental drug with morphine. They found that the mice no longer developed a tolerance to morphine, and that lack of tolerance remained even after the experimental drug was discontinued. The researchers also found the experimental drug, on its own, could produce sustained pain relief at higher doses.

The findings were reported in the journal Molecular Pharmacology.