WVU researchers test non-opioid treatment for common back pain

Micropellet Clonidine has been used as a treatment for blood pressure and since the 1990s as a pain treatment in liquid, pill and patch form, Rezai said.

“The innovation here is the use of this medication in a pelletized form that allows long-acting local delivery in the form of a pellet that slowly releases the clonidine at the site of the pain to treat the pain,” he said. “In this case, the pain is sciatica.”

Rezai is not directly involved in the study; he serves as a scientific adviser to Columbus, Ohio-based Sollis Therapeutics, the company that developed the micropellet.

“The fact is that, unfortunately, treatment options for sciatica and other back pains have inadvertently led to opioid abuse,” Rezai said. “So, if we can now develop new technologies, such as this opioid-free micropellet, to help with pain management, then I think we’re on the right track of helping people with pain while minimizing the addictive elements of [opioids].”

The clinical trial will involve 200 patients at more than 25 sites across the country — 100 will receive the micropellet, and 100 will receive an injection with no medication, called a sham procedure.

“We hope that the patients that have sciatica will have very good and prolonged pain relief from this formulation of this medicine,” said Dr. Richard Vaglienti, the principal investigator for WVU’s site of the study and the director of the Center for Integrative Pain Management. “This is a medicine we’ve used for many years for pain in anesthesiology, and now it’s been formulated into these pellets that we’re injecting into the patients’ epidural space, in hopes of finding a better treatment than what we have now.”

Vaglienti said the Center for Integrative Pain Management was established for the purpose of addressing the opioid epidemic and “very commonly” treats patients with sciatic pain. Rezai

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