depressed man

Opioid Use Disorder

The misuse of opioids, including prescription pain relievers, heroin and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, is a serious United States national public health crisis that affects both social and economic welfare. Recent estimates indicate that 11.4 million Americans, or about 4.2% of the total population, misuse opioids. About 80% of individuals using heroin (almost 900,000 individuals) first started out using prescription opioid pain relievers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the “all-in” annual cost of opioid misuse in the United States is $78.5 billion, which includes the costs of healthcare, lost productivity, addiction treatment, and criminal justice involvement. There are multiple medications currently approved to treat Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) but given the scope and impact of this national public health crisis as well the limited success of current medicines, additional solutions are needed. The best predictor of long term recovery and relapse prevention is for OUD patients to take their medication and to remain on it.

thumbnail preview


or about 4.2% of the total population, misuse opioids.

vials labelled for heroin, fentanyl, and carfentanil
Overdose Chart

Overdose, the leading edge of the opioid epidemic

Overdose deaths are perhaps the most visible manifestation of the opioid crisis. Beginning in 2015, there was a dramatic shift in the patterns of opioid-induced fatalities. In the United States, the opioid crisis has evolved into a ‘fentanyl crisis,’ surpassing heroin as a major cause of opioid overdose deaths. Some alarming facts surrounding fentanyl and fentanyl derivatives are highlighted below.

  • 60% of fatal opioid overdoses involve fentanyl/fentanyl analogs (29.4K of 47.6K opioid-related deaths in 2017)
  • Fentanyl is longer-acting and 50x more potent than heroin, where a single 2mg dose (0.00000441 pound) is lethal for most people
  • Other fentanyl derivatives such as carfentanil are 5000x more potent than heroin, making just several crystals of carfentanil lethal
  • Fentanyl can be used in chemical attacks (50kg can kill more than 50M people)
  • United States Customs and Border Protection has stored enough fentanyl from seizures in the past year to kill an estimated 794M people

Opiant is developing medicines to treat Opioid Use Disorder and reverse an opioid overdose

Opiant has two products in development to treat OUD.  Our novel heroin vaccine stimulates the production of antibodies to form a complex with heroin which remains in the blood and inhibits its ability to produce pleasurable and potentially lethal effects. We are also developing an ultra long-acting opioid antagonist implant that will block the reinforcing effects of opioids for up to six months. Moreover, combining the opioid antagonist nalmefene with our nasal delivery technology, we are developing a product candidate to stymie the increasing threat from fentanyl.