While the country wrestles with a scourge of opioid deaths, former Butte resident Bryan Roth is leading the research to develop medications that kill pain without addiction.
“You know, every year more than 50,000 people are dying,” said Roth. “This is more than died in the entire Vietnam War and dying to opioid overdoses.”
Roth, who was born in Missoula and grew up in Butte, is a pharmacological professor at the University of North Carolina. Roth hopes his research will lead medication safer than current opioids on the market.
The research is being done through the company Roth co-founded called Epiodyne Inc. in San Francisco.
“Medication you can take for pain that would have basically the pain-relieving effects of drugs like morphine or Oxycodone without a lot of the side effects, particularly death and addiction,” Roth said.
Roth has a team of 25 researchers that are in the animal testing phase of the research and it’s promising.
“So far, they look like they would be just what the doctor ordered,” said Roth. “They can relieve pain, but would not be addictive.”
There’s still more research to be done and it could be a few years before the medication is ready. Roth adds that he misses his hometown of Butte and recalls going to the M&M regularly in his youth.
“I would stop by the M&M Bar and have liver and onions,” Roth said. “And they made the most amazing liver and onions.”