Funds to Fight Opioid Epidemic

NIH Director Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD recently announced the launch of the “Helping to End Addiction Long-Term Initiative” (HEAL) HEAL is a trans-agency effort to speed scientific solutions to stem the national opioid public health crisis.

NIH is nearly doubling funding for research on opioid misuse, addiction, and pain from about $600 million in FY 2016 to $1.1 billion in FY 2018 which was made possible from a funding boost by Congress.

HEAL will help NIH researchers:

  • Launch a longitudinal study to follow patients after acute onset of musculoskeletal pain. The patients will be followed after surgery to identify biomarkers that might predict which individuals are more likely to transition from acute to chronic pain
  • Leverage imaging and omics neuro-technologies developed through the NIH BRAIN Initiative to identify potential new targets for treatment of chronic pain and identify biomarkers to predict which individuals will respond to a treatment
  • Advance understanding of the genetic and social factors that put patients at risk for opioid misuse and addiction to provide information on precision prevention strategies tailored to individual risk factors
  • Support best practices for pain management using nondrug and integrated therapies for specific pain conditions by working with other agencies
  • Pursue public private partnerships to develop new non-addictive pain medicines by sharing data on past and present research projects, and then matching researchers with potentially promising but abandoned pharmaceutical industry compounds to explore their effectiveness to treat pain
  • Build a clinical trials network to enable multiple new and repurposed compounds to be tested simultaneously for effectiveness
  • Expand therapeutic options for treating addiction, Medication-Assisted Therapy, and to treat overdose reversal treatments. Develop immunotherapies that enlist the immune system to block entry of heroin or synthetic opioids to the brain
  • Expand the Advancing Clinical Trials in Neonatal Opioid Withdrawal Syndrome (ACT NOW) project by tapping into the Environmental Child Health Outcomes, IDeA States, and the Pediatric Clinical Trials Network
  • Work with federal and state partners on pilot demonstration projects to test the integration of multiple addiction prevention and treatment options in healthcare and criminal justice settings in states with the highest rates of opioid misuse and overdose
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