On Tuesday, Vertex Pharmaceuticals reported that late-stage trials of their experimental painkiller, which is being studied as a potential substitute for addictive opioids, had shown a significant reduction in post-surgery pain.

However, VX-548 did not perform any better than a common opioid.

Nevertheless, the trial’s outcomes get the biotech business closer to creating a medication that can effectively relieve pain without having the addictive qualities of opioids, which has led to a terrible epidemic in the United States. Many more analogs of this type of painkiller were never commercialized.

By the middle of this year, Vertex said, it would apply for the Food and Drug Administration to approve the medication for the treatment of moderate to severe acute pain.

Acute pain typically results from trauma, disease, injury, surgery, or traumatic medical procedures; it normally goes away with time. According to a press statement from Vertex, every year in the United States, almost 80 million patients are prescribed medication for moderate-to-severe acute pain.

If approved by regulators, the medication, which blocks pain impulses before they reach the brain, might become a blockbuster treatment, according to Wall Street analysts, who estimate that its yearly sales could surpass $1 billion.

“We are very pleased with the results from the VX-548 pivotal program, which demonstrate a compelling and consistent combination of efficacy and safety across multiple acute pain conditions and settings,” Vertex CEO Dr. Reshma Kewalramani said in a release.

Following the announcement of the results, Vertex’s shares increased by more than 2 percent on Tuesday. The company is valued at over $115 billion on the market and is best recognized for creating medications to treat the severe hereditary illness cystic fibrosis.