This week the National Institutes of Health (NIH) upped its investment in the government-wide push to end the opioid crisis and launched an effort to bring scientists together to speed up the discovery of better treatments for people suffering from pain and opioid use disorders. Called HEAL for Helping to End Addiction Long-term, the NIH’s new initiative will focus on: reducing the over prescription of opioids by doctors; rapidly developing new, non-opioid pain medications; and expanding therapies for those with opioid use disorder.
“The NIH’s increased funding for opioid addiction research, combined with its HEAL Initiative, are necessary steps towards solving the current public health crisis. There is a critical need for more research into the mechanisms of this disease and expanded treatment options for the 2.1 million Americans grappling with an opioid use disorder. We are thankful that leading researchers at the NIH and the National Institute on Drug Abuse are making their needs a priority and believe this focus will lead to scientific solutions,” said Jessica Hulsey Nickel, president and chief executive officer of the Addiction Policy Forum.
The nation’s largest research agency will nearly double the funding available to study opioid addiction, from $600 million in 2016 to $1.1 billion in 2018. Congress made this increased investment possible through the FY 2018 Consolidated Appropriations Act, which provides $500 million for opioid addiction research.
“NIH is committed to bringing the full power of the biomedical research enterprise to bear on this crisis,” said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D.