Opioids are used extensively in the treatment of pain. Even with the growing awareness about the risks associated with opioids and the recognition of the current opioid crisis, the number of prescriptions for opioids is still rising in Canada. Safe and effective pharmacological alternatives to opioids could have a significant impact on the opioid crisis and the management of pain in Canada. Currently, several non-opioid drugs are used for the treatment of pain, such as acetaminophen, NSAIDs, corticosteroids, antidepressants, anticonvulsants, and others. However, these drugs have not been able to completely replace opioids in the treatment of pain.
To address this clinical need, several emerging non-opioid drugs are in development and some have been approved in other countries. This Environmental Scan will provide background information on alternative drugs in the pipeline with a potential to reduce or eliminate the use of opioids in the treatment of pain.