U of A researchers working on alternative to opioids

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Researchers at the U of A are testing drugs that they believe could slow down the opioid crisis that kills thousands of people across the country every year.

Rejesh Khanna is a professor at the College of Medicine. He said the drugs are being designed to be non-addictive and non-toxic.

He said recently discovered compounds have been able to relieve pain on animals without showing signs of dependency. He calls the observation a milestone but said it's still very early in the drug development process.

The compounds have been licensed to the startup called Regulonix. The ultimate goal would be to get the drug approved by the FDA, into the marketplace, and eventually into the hands of physicians.

"Pain sadly is not going to go away, so we have to come up with ways to arm the physicians with alternatives. We just can't simply legislate opioids and say OK that's it, you're not every going to use it. That doesn't help anybody," he said.

He hopes the drugs could be used to get patients to taper down from opioids. Governor Doug Ducey declared a state of emergency over the summer to address the crisis in the state of Arizona.

The team of researchers hope to begin testing on humans within three to five years.

MOBILE USERS: Download our Tucson News Now app for Apple and Android devices.

Copyright 2017 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.