The National Institute on Drug Abuse awarded a team of Scripps researchersmore than $3 million
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to carry out studies on four new classes of chemicals.
The chemicals might be able to act in a way similar to morphine -- binding to the same receptors in the brain to lessen pain -- without causing addiction, constipation, and other ills that South Florida is all too familiar with, like overdoses.
The chemicals could be an economic boon if they are proven safe and effective. Big Pharma is clamoring for new pain drugs that people can't abuse or won't want to abuse. But developing such a miracle pill is challenging, especially given the creativity of addicts when it comes to getting high.
If the Scripps scientists succeed, they would not only help patients, but they would create a highly competitive drug in one of the largest markets in the pharmaceutical industry. When Florida and local governments paid to lure Scripps to Florida in 2003, it was the promise of spinning off such discoveries into companies that generated much of the excitement.
On the other hand, some companies would prefer to overlook the whole addiction, overdose, and pill-mill thing to bring a pure and extremely potent form of hydrocodone to the masses.