Surgery is never fun. But surgery during a global pandemic is an especially frightening prospect. When I went under the knife for a hernia correction procedure recently, COVID-19[female[feminine was added to the long list of potentially fatal issues I had to be concerned about.
Long list? Yes: the operating room and I have come a long way, which left me with a lot of risk factors. I had open heart surgery ten years ago to repair an aortic aneurysm and a calcified valve. I have a titanium valve in my chest. I also take blood thinners, which means I can’t take traditional NSAID pain relievers like ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen because their side effects – which include gastrointestinal punctures and bleeding – could hurt me. seriously or kill me. And I don’t want to take opioids, which pose an addiction risk, let alone severe constipation and a host of other side effects.
When I went under the knife, I had to settle for acetaminophen, which just isn’t suitable for lasting pain relief – and does nothing for the inflammation that follows surgically injured tissue. It hurt like hell.
I wish I could say my experience was unique, but many others face the same kind of pain and the same kind of choices around her treatment – 8 million Americans are taking blood thinners, according to a recent report of Pharmacy hours.
However, as the chief medical officer of a pain-focused biotechnology research company, I have better visibility than usual on drug needs for acute and chronic pain. And if I’ve learned one thing, it’s this: Society needs new drugs and remedies that don’t turn common illnesses or routine healthcare procedures into unnecessary bets.
It is hard enough not being able to use NSAID pain relievers after surgery. But there’s also chronic pain, which a quarter of all adults suffer from in one form or another. Again, my own story is relevant and not unusual. I regularly experience pain all over my body from teenage sports injuries and military service, and from the simple fact that I am getting older. For anyone with multiple risk factors, making the wrong decision about which pain pill to take could have serious consequences. We have to seriously weigh the pros and cons of anything we ingest.
Many of us try opioids, which are often used for moderate to severe pain. But it risks turning even more people into statistics in North America’s raging drug crisis. Opioids were a factor in two-thirds of 72,000 drug overdose death in 2019.
In my previous life as a US Navy medic, I found myself in various rural primary care facilities and clinics in North Philadelphia, where I saw first-hand the real and devastating human impact of opioids. They are addictive – plain and simple. Even improper use of light can lead to serious neurological effects, including coma, brain damage, or death, not to mention persistence. stigma around addiction. Healthcare professionals and pharmaceutical suppliers need to play a leading role in fostering addiction awareness and stigma reduction conversations in communities like these.
Pennsylvania farm country, the military, the business world – everywhere I have spent time I have seen opioid addiction. The crisis is raging in towns and villages, in farms and in mansions, far and near. And now, the global COVID-19 pandemic has made the opioid crisis even more deadly, creating insecurity, isolating users, disrupting the flow of uncontaminated medicine supplies and taxing our health services. .
During my last surgery, I received opioids during and immediately after the procedure. But once I left the hospital recovery area, I made the call to live with my postoperative pain, free of opioids and NSAIDs, in the name of living beyond. My decision and the physical discomfort that came with it reminded me of how desperately we need alternative medications.
Fortunately, I am part of a strong community of biotechnology and medical professionals looking for non-addictive pain relief solutions.
As the medical community prepares to roll out COVID-19 vaccines in the coming months, we must continue to run parallel on the research and development needed to introduce effective, low-risk pain relief. My own company is developing three pain relievers derived from traditional NSAIDs but designed to be safer for the gastrointestinal tract.
We also need to revamp the traditional drug discovery process – a long-term endeavor. We need a model that allows science to do its job while allowing healthcare professionals to move quickly from R&D through testing to government approval and the deployment phases of putting on the market. alternatives market.
I believe we will get there, just as I believe we will beat COVID-19. I am optimistic that future surgeries like mine will be as routine as possible, even for people with risk factors. To be successful, we just need to make sure that pain is the only thing we kill with pain relievers.
Dr Joseph Stauffer is the Chief Medical Officer of Antibe Therapeutics.
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