Feb. 2, 2024 – The drug, called VX-548, works by blocking pain signals from nerves in the body before they get to the brain. Unlike opioids, it works only on peripheral nerves, and not on the brain or spinal cord. That means it doesn’t carry the potential for addiction that opioids do.  “Eighty million patients receive a prescription for moderate to severe pain, and their choices are really limited,” Stuart Arbuckle, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at Vertex, said in an earnings call.

Painkillers like ibuprofen, muscle relaxers, and antidepressants typically carry few side effects but are often not potent enough to relieve moderate to severe pain. Opioids, on the other hand, can be powerful therapies but come with serious side effects.