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NIH Doubles Funding for Opioid-related Research, Launches New Initiative

April 04, 2018

National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced today the launch of the HEAL (Helping to End Addiction Long-term) Initiative, designed to speed scientific solutions to stem the national opioid public health crisis. 

Toward this effort, NIH is nearly doubling funding for research on opioid misuse, substance use disorder, and pain from approximately $600 million during fiscal year (FY) 2016 to $1.1 billion during FY 2018. 

The HEAL Initiative will bolster research across the NIH to prevent addiction through enhanced pain management and improved treatments for opioid misuse and substance use disorder. Specific efforts include:

  • Conducting a long-term study to follow patients after acute onset of pain and post-surgery, to identify biomarkers that predict which patients are likely to transition from acute to chronic pain 
  • Developing a better understanding of the genetic and social factors that put patients at risk for opioid use and addiction
  • Defining and supporting best practices for pain management using nondrug and integrated therapies
  • Pursuing public-private partnerships and building a clinical trials network that will allow multiple new and repurposed drugs to be tested simultaneously for effectiveness
  • Expanding therapeutic options for treating addiction, including extending the options for Medication-Assisted Therapy (MAT) and overdose reversal treatments
  • Evaluating treatments and long-term consequences of neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome by expanding related research

The NIH also plans to work with state and federal partners to run pilots to test the integration of multiple addiction and prevention treatment options in health care settings in states, such as Pennsylvania, with high rates of opioid misuse and overdose. 

HAP has been supporting Pennsylvania hospitals and health systems as they work to curb the opioid epidemic by:

  • Implementing safe prescribing guidelines
  • Coordinating “warm handoffs” with county organizations and others to connect overdose survivors to treatment options
  • Implementing medically assisted treatment protocols to help overdose survivors transition to long-term treatment

For more information about Pennsylvania hospitals’ efforts to curb the opioid epidemic, please contact Michael J. Consuelos, HAP’s vice president, clinical integration.
 

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