Better Research

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HHS is supporting cutting edge research on pain and addiction to inform clinical practices, reduce opioid prescribing and combat the opioid crisis. This research will help to ensure that policies are evidence-based and that patients are able to access the care they need.

In April 2018, NIH launched the HEAL (Helping to End Addiction Long-term) Initiative, an aggressive, 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 approximately $600 million in fiscal year 2016 to $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2018

NIH Director Francis Collins and National Institutes for Drug Abuse (NIDA) Director Nora Volkow published a New England Journal of Medicine article "The Role of Science in Addressing the Opioid Crisis" announcing a public-private partnership at NIH to advance science of pain and addiction and bring new treatments to patients.

AHRQ is investing about $12 million over 3 years in a series of grants to discover how to best support primary care practices and rural communities in delivering MAT for opioid abuse in rural primary care practices. AHRQ-funded projects will explore and test solutions aimed at overcoming barriers to the use of MAT in rural primary care settings, such as limited continuing training opportunities for prescribing physicians, negative perceptions about people with substance abuse disorders, negative expectations about the effectiveness of treatment, and lack of social support services in rural communities. .

NIH supported a research study finding that two commonly used medications for the treatment of opioid use disorder, buprenorphine and extended-release naltrexone, are comparable in effectiveness once treatment has been initiated.

NIDA supports the National Drug Early Warning System (NDEWS), which monitors emerging drug use trends to enable health experts, researchers and others to respond quickly to potential outbreaks of illicit drugs.

NIH launched a new study to evaluate treatment options and improve clinical care of infants with neonatal abstinence syndrome, or NAS. The study will include sites located in rural and medically underserved communities, to better understand current approaches and develop protocols for conducting large scale studies across the country to inform clinical care for affected infants.

The HHS Behavioral Health Coordinating Council Subcommittee on Prescription Drug Abuse developed the Protecting Our Infants Act: Final Strategy as mandated by the Protecting Our Infants Act of 2015 (POIA) in response to the unmet needs of pregnant women and their newborns and outlined a strategy to (1) reduce the gaps in research; (2) develop guidance of best practice to treat NAS; and (3) to coordinate federal efforts and reduce duplication among relevant federal programs.

OWH Issued a Final Report on Opioid Use, Misuse, and Overdose in Women that examines the impact of the opioid epidemic on women and highlighted promising practices that address their specific needs.

Opioid Symposium Hosted by the HHS CTO brought together policy makers, researchers, advocates, and others on the front lines of the opioid epidemic to promote innovative ways that technology and data can be used to address the national crisis. Held in conjunction with the opioid code-a-thon.

In September 2017, NIH, DOD, and VA announced a veteran pain management research collaborative. Collectively, the agencies announced a joint research partnership of $81 million over six years to support research related to pain management in the military and veteran community.