NIH Awards $945 Million for Opioids Research


“Historic investment” distributed to private companies, universities, and researchers.

money trading hands

Among the research grants and contracts awarded, a total of $945 million from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) were directed toward research on novel medication options to combat opioid use disorder and overdoses.

The grants, contracts and cooperative agreements were awarded for fiscal year 2019 across 41 states through the Helping to End Addiction Long-term Initiative (NIH HEAL Initiative). “The trans-NIH research effort aims to improve treatments for chronic pain, curb the rates of opioid use disorder (OUD) and overdose, and achieve long-term recovery from opioid addiction,” said NIH in a statement.

An estimated 50 million U.S. adults suffered from chronic pain and in 2018, an estimated 10.3 million people 12 years and older in the United States misused opioids, including heroin, NIH said.

The “historic investment” by NIH was made possible by funding secured from Congress by President Trump, said HHS Secretary Alex Azar.

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“President Trump’s approach to the opioid crisis and HHS’s strategy have both been based in the best science we have. We have effective tools, such as medication-assisted treatment, but we still need better ways to treat opioid addiction and manage pain in an effective, personalized way,” Azar said.

“We need to ensure that people with chronic pain have effective treatment options that don’t expose them to the risk of opioids,” says Rebecca G. Baker, PhD, director of the NIH HEAL Initiative. “Preventing opioid misuse and addiction through enhanced pain management and improving treatments for OUD and addiction are both critical parts of our trans-NIH response to the opioid crisis.”

Among the programs and contracts receiving funds in fiscal 2019 are:

  • One-year sustained release naltrexone implant for the prevention of relapse to opioid dependence, granted to Delpor Inc.

  • Enhanced outcomes for infants and children exposed to opioids, awarded to several universities and researchers.

  • A novel chemokine receptor antagonist to block opioid reinforcement, relapse, and physical dependence, to Creative Biopeptides, Inc.

  • A novel fast-acting nalmefene formulation for the prevention and treatment of opioid overdose, to Avior, Inc.
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