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Neuropathic & Nociceptive Pain Medication

20 Years of Development Programs

The journal of Anesthesiology published a report on the viability of pain management medication development. Using a database and over 1600 data points, researchers analyzed variables to note the probability of “success, duration, and survivorship of pain medication development programs between January 1, 2000, and June 30, 2020, conditioned on the phase, type of pain (nociceptive vs. neuropathic), and the abuse potential of the medication.” Success was defined as leading to a higher phase; failed=if terminated.

Successful development probability findings include:

  • 10.4% for all pain medications from phase 1 to approval
  • 13.3% successful development of medications to treat nociceptive
  • 7.1% successful development of medications to treat neuropathic pain
  • 27.8% successful development of medications with high abuse potential
  • 4.7% successful development of medications with low abuse potential


  • ↓ in development of new medications with high abuse potential (including opioids) since peak of opioid epidemic around 2010
  • ↑ in number of development programs for low abuse potential pain medications, reflecting need for paradigm shift in management of pain
  • “The development of effective pain treatments without the potential for abuse should continue to be the pharmaceutical industry’s goal in pain medication development.”


Access the journal article.

Read the press release.

Holly Caster