Strategies towards safer opioid analgesics—A review of old and upcoming targets

Balazs R. Varga, John M. Streicher, Susruta Majumdar

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Opioids continue to be of use for the treatment of pain. Most clinically used analgesics target the μ opioid receptor whose activation results in adverse effects like respiratory depression, addiction and abuse liability. Various approaches have been used by the field to separate receptor-mediated analgesic actions from adverse effects. These include biased agonism, opioids targeting multiple receptors, allosteric modulators, heteromers and splice variants of the μ receptor. This review will focus on the current status of the field and some upcoming targets of interest that may lead to a safer next generation of analgesics. LINKED ARTICLES: This article is part of a themed issue on Advances in Opioid Pharmacology at the Time of the Opioid Epidemic. To view the other articles in this section visit

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)975-993
Number of pages19
JournalBritish Journal of Pharmacology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 2023


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