Abuse of prescription opioids and fatalities related to their misuse have increased sharply in recent years, making the development of pain medications with reduced abuse potential a major public health priority. When combined, opioids and cannabinoid (CB) receptor agonists show analgesic effects appear to be at least additive in a number of pain models. Cannabidiol (CBD), although much less psychoactive than ?9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary active principle in Cannabis, still retains analgesic effects. Efforts to develop analogs of CBD with improved solubility and bioavailability resulted in discovery of CBD-valinate-hemisuccinate (CBD-VHS), which gives excellent performance in its own right in pain models, but also reduces the rewarding effects of morphine in a conditioned place preference test. The next steps, addressed in this project, are to carefully delineate the effects of CBD-VHS in combination with the commonly-used opioid therapeutic oxycodone, in order to understand their analgesic interactions and the abuse liability of the combinations. This will be done by using drug self-administration tests and analgesia models to find out whether mixture ratios that are less reinforcing still produce good pain relief. These goals will be achieved by first giving oxycodone (OXY) by the intravenous route, establishing dose-responses to OXY alone, then giving CBD-VHS in various doses and see how this affects responses to OXY. Once appropriate dose ratios are selected, then the combination will be evaluated for its ability to relieve pain. Validated isobolographic and dose-addition analyses will be used to determine if the combinations are additive or interactive (i.e., supra- or infra-additive) in analgesic effect. The outcome of this Phase I effort will be the selection of the most promising fixed ratio of oxycodone and CBD-VHS formulation for further preclinical development in the phase II STTR, as a pain management therapeutic with minimized abuse liability. The Phase II development program will include characterization of the interaction in nonhuman primates, pharmacokinetic and pharmacological assessments from oral formulations, and safety evaluations.

Public Health Relevance

The relevance of this project to public health is especially pointed because of the current opioid addiction crisis. This proposal will advance a new cannabinoid-based analgesic therapy which can allow opioid dose reduction and simultaneously reduce the reinforcing effects of oxycodone. If successful, this will expand the options for patients requiring chronic therapy with potent analgesics, and reduce risk of abuse/overdose.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Grants - Phase I (R41)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1)
Program Officer
Hubner, Carol B
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Elsohly Laboratories, Inc.
United States
Zip Code