Substance use and substance-use disorders have created a significant public health burden. In 2008, the number of deaths in the United States involving prescription opioids exceeded the aggregated number of deaths from heroin and cocaine. In 2016 more than 64,000 deaths in the US were related to drug overdose and the economic cost of the opioid epidemic in 2015 is estimated to $504.0 billion. The statistics leave no doubt, but they do not capture the full extent of the problem. Information indicates that tens of millions of Americans abuse prescription opioids, sedatives and stimulants and globally around 75 per cent of the burden of disease caused by drug-use disorders is associated with opioids. Meanwhile, the availability and access to scientific evidence-based treatment remains limited in many countries and only about 1 in 6 people worldwide suffering from drug-use disorders receives treatment.

Substance use and substance-use disorders is a global public health burden and is also recognized by the United Nations as one of the targets within the 17 Sustainable Development Goals that must be met to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Many countries still fail to provide adequate treatment and services to reduce the harm caused by substance abuse and only four countries worldwide have been classified as having high levels of coverage of opioid substitution therapy and needle and syringe programs. The result is that only one in six people worldwide suffering from drug-use disorders receives treatment.1

The US is a large and rapidly growing market for opioid dependence and Orexo has a broad presence in the country. The financial burden of the epidemic in 2015 was estimated at $504.0 billion2 and approximately 70,200 deaths in 2017 were related to drug overdose.3 Today, there is a broad political support for development and financing of measures that could curb the trend and address the lack of access to treatment. With the President’s signature of the “Support for Patients and Communities Act” in October 2018, there is now also support in law for many of the improvements requested.

Orexo’s key therapeutic area is within treatment of opioid dependence and ever since Zubsolv® was launched in the US, one of Orexo’s main objectives has been to make treatment available for more people. Lately, Orexo has also put efforts into a broad development pipeline embracing all aspects of opioid addiction, from prevention to treatment. Provided that the development projects run according to plan, the company will be able to replace opioids in treatment of some acute pain conditions and thus minimizing the risk of developing addiction, saving lives through opioid overdose reversal and providing prescribers with more options within drug substitution therapy.

1) World Drug Report 2018
2) The Council of Economic Advisers, The Underestimated Cost of the Opioid Crisis