When searching Google for natural pain remedies, you’ll find tons of positive testimonials. Consumers must do the research and read as many personal stories as possible, since the FDA refuses to research or endorse most natural alternatives, as not to create competition for the multi-billion-dollar pharmaceutical industry. But as the public becomes hip to the fact that prescription painkillers are dangerous, addictive and should be avoided, certain pharmaceutical companies are now forcing themselves to find alternative sources, derived from (you guessed it) nature.
The power of Capsaicin
Centrexion Therapeutics Corp. is following in the tradition of other drugmakers who’ve created synthetic versions of natural analgesics such as THC. Capsaicin is a well-known pain reliever extracted from hot peppers and is already used in topical form, capsules, and dried powders.
According to WebMd,
Capsaicin works by first stimulating and them decreasing the intensity of pain signals in the body. Capsaicin stimulates the release of a compound believed to be involved in communicating pain between the nerves in the spinal cord and other parts of the body.
Just one injection every six months
Centrexion Therapeutics (led by former Pfizer executive, Jeffrey Kindler) is looking to capitalize on its pain-relieving benefits by developing an injection-based synthetic capsaicin, based on clinical evidence showing that one injection significantly reduced knee pain in patients with osteoarthritis for up to six months. The company describes the product as,
A selective, highly potent, ultrapure, synthetic form of trans-capsaicin that is injected directly into the site of pain. It harnesses the natural analgesic power of capsaicin to develop a proprietary injectable therapy designed to provide fast acting, long-lasting and targeted pain relief.
As there’s no injectable form of natural capsaicin, Centrexion may be onto something. Topical and ingestible forms of the compound require consistent use, while one CNTX-4975 synthetic capsaicin injection brought long-term pain relief, increased joint mobility, and enhanced physical function.
Interestingly, CNTX-4975 deactivates the local pain fibers that transmit signals to the brain. The CNTX-4975 is actually cleared from the body within 24 hours, but the pain-relief lasts because those local pain fibers must become regenerated before the pain returns.
A miracle drug?
Excited about this promising data, Centrexion’s press release states, These data represent the largest reductions seen in knee osteoarthritis pain reported for any drug treatment, marketed or in development.” It should also be cost-effective, since trans-capsaicin costs a penny per milligram and is only dosed every six months.
The next step for CNTX-4975 will be to acquire FDA approval, which will need to pass the litmus test as a better alternative to NSAIDS. This has little to do with safety and more to do with whether patients find greater relief with the synthetic capsaicin injection than with NSAIDS and traditional painkillers.
Of course, given that it’s synthetic, it is difficult to tell what the health drawbacks of the product may be at this point. Yet, any potential health risks could be outweighed by a reduction of painkiller use (and the reduction in prescriptions to treat side effects) due to the effectiveness of the injection.
Assuming this method could be somewhat safer than others, at least drugmakers like Centrexion appear to be on the right track.