The Center for Disease Control states that 78 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose, and that 28,000 Americans died from prescription opioid overdose and heroin combined in 2014. Frighteningly, the number of overdose deaths involving opioids such as prescription pain relievers and heroin has quadrupled since 1999.

Oliceridine is a novel opioid that may provide effective, rapid analgesia and reduce common adverse effects. In Phase II clinical trials, oliceridine has been shown to reduce respiratory depression, nausea, and gastrointestinal tract dysfunction in patients, proving to be safer and more tolerable than morphine.2 Respiratory depression is a common cause of death in opioid overdose, so such promising results could provide a vital tool in combatting the opioid crisis sweeping the United States. The drug itself is a mu-receptor G protein pathway selective modulator that has undergone extensive preclinical research.  If this drug proves to be more tolerable than current prescription opioids, doctors would not have to limit the dose of opioid for patients based on negative side effects. Therefore, patients would experience faster pain relief and be less likely to risk addiction by remaining on opioid analgesics for an extended period of time.

Other options to solve the opioid crisis involve improving the diagnosis and prescription of opioids, expanding treatment of addiction, and reducing access to illegal opioids. Successful resolution of the opioid crisis will likely take a combination of these approaches. Oliceridine presents an exciting  opportunity to retain analgesia while mitigating adverse side effects. The drug is now reaching the conclusion of Phase III trials conducted by Trevena, with data to be released in early 2017.


  1. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (2016, June). Injury Prevention & Control: Opioid Overdose.
  2. Schneider, S. et al. (2016, October 25). Oliceridine (TRV-130) Binds and Stabilizes a μ-Opioid Receptor Conformational State that Selectively Triggers G Protein-Signaling Pathways. Biochemistry.

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