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July 28, 1956


JAMA. 1956;161(13):1254. doi:10.1001/jama.1956.02970130042011

A potent pain-relieving drug that would not produce addiction has long been sought. Such an agent would be very valuable, since it would permit physicians to relieve pain in chronic painful conditions not amenable to definitive therapy for long periods of time. In addition to not producing physical dependence, the characteristics desired in such an agent would include analgesic potency equal to that of morphine; toxicity no greater, and preferably less, than that of morphine; absence of the undesirable side-effects of morphine, such as respiratory depression, nausea, and constipation; and, perhaps most important of all, no tolerance to the pain-relieving effect.

The search for such a drug has been carried on since 1929 under the aegis of the committee on drug addiction and narcotics of the National Research Council.1 The original approach was based on attempts to modify the properties of morphine by altering the molecule chemically.2 With

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