NIH Addressing Opioid Crisis

The NIH “Helping to End Addiction Long-term” (HEAL) initiative was established to address the opioid crisis by expanding the number of treatment options available to the more than 50 million American adults affected by chronic pain and the two million suffering from addiction. This effort includes developing new non-addictive medications and medical technologies that would reduce the need for opioids. 

To help guide research, the Heal Partnership Committee (HPC) works with experts on drug and medical device development, research, and bioethics, and includes critical patient representation. The HPC is a forum where existing data and knowledge about past pain therapy development can be shared.

NIH will solicit promising well-characterized drug and device-based pain treatment candidates for testing in the HEAL “Early-Phase Pain Investigation Clinical Network” (EPPIC) Network). The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) will run EPPI Net solicitations and evaluations and then integrate the findings with other HEAL research.

Through established advisory councils, NIH will enable HPC members to share lessons learned from previously unsuccessful effort to develop new pain treatments. This includes studying current limitations in models of pain, comparing and harmonizing data with relevant similar industry trials, and making use of existing industry tools to test candidates and targets for treating pain.

NIH has signed a memorandum of understanding with professional organizations such as AdvaMed, Biotechnology Innovation Organization, and PhRMA as well as the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health, to advance the goals of the HEAL Initiative to members and identify representatives with scientific expertise to provide knowledge and guidance.

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