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New Initiative to Speed Pain Treatments

Back pain (FDA)

(U.S. Food and Drug Administration)

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) selected University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, New York to lead a new initiative — Analgesic Clinical Trial Innovations, Opportunities, and Networks (ACTION) — to identify better pain treatments more quickly. FDA awarded Rochester a $1 million contract to launch the program that brings together professional societies, patient advocacy groups, industry, and government to collaborate on projects that help bring more treatment options to patients.

Pain is the most common symptom leading patients to see a physician in the United States. Yet the most widely prescribed medications -– opioids and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) -– have major drawbacks, including the potential for misuse and abuse and adverse effects that limit long-term use.

The problem is not a lack of new potential medications. Many studies testing experimental therapies have been conducted or are underway. The problem is that many clinical trials fail, whether for low back pain, osteoarthritis, neuropathic pain, or a host of other pain conditions, because they are unable to show a new medication provides meaningfully greater pain relief than placebos.

The ACTION partnership will analyze a wide range of clinical trials of treatments for acute and chronic pain, looking specifically at the approach and procedures used in each trial. Researchers hope to identify problems or gaps in trial design and implementation, and find ways to bridge these gaps to speed the development of new safe and effective medications.

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