Researchers at the Scripps Research Institute are working on a vaccine that could help to prevent overdoses and addiction involving the powerful opioid painkiller fentanyl. Scripps researchers say that they recently completed successful preclinical trials for the fentanyl vaccine and are working to develop a vaccine that could be used to treat patients who suffer fentanyl overdoses or other complications from the drug.
The fentanyl vaccine works by tricking the body’s immune system into mistaking a molecule in the vaccine for fentanyl. This causes the body to produce antibodies that block the effects of the opioid medication in the patient’s body.
In preclinical trials for the vaccine, laboratory mice were give three doses of the vaccine over intervals of two weeks. Afterward, the animals’ immune systems were able to neutralize the effects of fentanyl for months. Mice that were given fentanyl did not experience a “high” from the drug until they were given 30 times the normal dose of fentanyl.
Although researchers say that the fentanyl vaccine protects against nearly all known derivatives of the drug, it does not interact with other powerful opioids such as OxyContin. This could allow doctors to administer the fentanyl vaccine to patients while still giving them treatment options to manage their pain with other medications.
Fentanyl is an extremely powerful opioid painkiller that is about 100 times more potent than morphine. The drug was approved by the FDA to treat patients with chronic, severe pain such as cancer patients. Because of the extreme potency of the drug, patients who use fentanyl face a high risk of overdose and other complications.
Work to develop a fentanyl vaccine comes at a time in which fatal overdoses caused by this powerful opioid painkiller have skyrocketed in the U.S. Between 2000 and 2014, the number of fatal opioid overdoses in the U.S. has doubled. Doctors have become increasingly willing in recent years to prescribe powerful opioid medications like fentanyl to patients with post-surgical pain or mild to moderate pain, helping to fuel the rise in fatal opioid overdoses.
Researchers say that they are now working to develop a vaccine that would counter the effects of both fentanyl and heroin simultaneously. The scientists say that such a vaccine would help to protect against overdose for patients who abuse medications that are variations on both of these drugs.
If you have lost a loved one due to a fentanyl overdose or a combined drug overdose caused by the interaction between fentanyl and other CNS depressant drugs, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit on your loved one’s behalf. The first step in determining whether you may qualify to file a lawsuit is to speak with an attorney with experience in handling fentanyl litigation.
The lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson have successfully handled more lawsuits involving fentanyl products than all other attorneys in the U.S. combined. Our attorneys have achieved verdicts and settlements in fentanyl lawsuits on behalf of our clients totaling tens of millions of dollar. Our lawyers will work on your behalf to ensure that we achieve the best results in your case.
In many cases, fentanyl overdoses occur because doctors prescribe the drug to patients who are not eligible to take this powerful painkiller under FDA regulations. Doctors may also inappropriately prescribe fentanyl to patients who are taking other drugs that affect the central nervous system, causing a combined drug overdose that can lead to fatal respiratory arrest.
For a free legal consultation from an attorney to find out if you are eligible to file a lawsuit involving fentanyl, contact the lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson. You can reach our office by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001, or by filling out the free case evaluation form located at the top of this page.