We spoke with ChangeMaker John Hsu, MD, a Whittier, California-based anesthesiologist, on the need to intervene in the opioid crisis. Read the transcript of this podcast below.
John Hsu, MD: What I found is that patients are in pain, but they also have other reasons for pain. There’s no one reason a patient has pain. There’s multiple reasons for pain. And the government asks us to treat pain with one pill, which I don’t think is the proper way of doing it. I think if patients have pain they also have anxiety and they also have depression. So I think that if we were going to treat the opioid crisis we need to make a definitive diagnosis that this pain actually has pain, as opposed to this patient has pain and anxiety and depression.
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I’m proposing a safer opioid, meaning that I can give these patients the opioid and they won’t die because of functional antagonism. The opioid treats the pain by binding to the mu receptor. My drug binds to another receptor that treats the side effect of the opioid, which is respiratory depression.
I’m at a stage of my life where I want to make a difference. I want to save lives. If I can do this as a part of my task before I retire, before I give up medicine, where I can save lives, then I think I’ve made a difference. This will be a game changer.