With drug overdoses now the leading cause of death among Americans under the age of 50, public health officials are scampering to find solutions to address the current opioid epidemic. In a move that could help treat opioid addiction and dependence, today world leading cannabinoid research and development company AXIM® Biotechnologies, Inc. (AXIM® Biotech) (OTC: AXIM) announced that it had filed a patent of invention with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for a chewing gum containing controlled-release cannabinoids and opioid agonists and/or antagonists. The story was featured by Reuters, Fortune, CNBC, and others.
The chewing gum, designed as a replacement to opioids to allow for gradual addiction recovery, can also be used for the treatment of chronic pain.
Opioids are commonly prescribed for post-surgery pain and health conditions like cancer. Increasingly over the years, physicians have started to prescribe them for chronic, non-cancer pain, such as osteoarthritis or back pain. The chemicals attach to receptors in the brain to block pain sensation, slow breathing, and elicit a calming and anti-depression effect.
With a high addiction liability, opioids depress central nervous system functioning and corresponding critical processes like respiratory rate, presenting the risk of a fatal overdose. Every day more than 91 Americans die from an opioid overdose, and about 1,000 are treated in emergency rooms for using prescribed opioids in a manner other than prescribed.
“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 AXIM Biotech CEO George E. Anastassov, MD, DDS, MBA, in a press release.
Opioid agonists are chemicals that bind to opioid receptors, activating them to elicit a biological reaction. Antagonists effectively block opioids by binding to the receptors themselves but not activating them, preventing any side effects of agonists. The composition of AXIM Biotech’s chewing gum involves lower potency agonists for gradual dependency reduction while managing withdrawal symptoms, and/or antagonists to block any opioid effects, as well as cannabinoids like the non-psychoactive compound cannabidiol (CBD) to reduce cravings.
Chewing gum represents an innovative delivery mechanism, as the act of chewing has neuroprotective properties and encourages the release of “reward” hormones like dopamine, serotonin and acetylcholine. It also reduces stress, strengthens concentration and improves oral health. Additionally, by being presented in a chewable gum form, users are able to avoid the adverse effects of other delivery methods like smoking and injection.
“This is another milestone achievement for AXIM Biotech. We believe we are the first to file patent application on using chewing gum as the delivery system for opioids and combination of opioids and cannabinoids. With this filing, we are one stop closer toward entering the $100 billion market in pain management,” said Anastassov.