To reverse the opioid crisis that continues to grip the nation, the National Institutes of Health has awarded $945 million in total fiscal year 2019 funding for grants, contracts and cooperative agreements across 41 states through the Helping to End Addiction Long-term Initiative or 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.
In 2016, 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.
“President Trump’s approach to the opioid crisis and HHS’s strategy have both been based in the best science we have,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. “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. This historic investment by NIH was made possible by funding secured from Congress by President Trump, and will support our work in the current crisis and lay the work for a healthier future.”
The NIH HEAL Initiative is leveraging expertise from almost every NIH institute and center to approach the crisis from all angles and disciplines, and across the full spectrum of research from basic to implementation science in the areas of:
- Translation of research to practice for the treatment of opioid addiction
- New strategies to prevent and treat opioid addiction
- Enhanced outcomes for infants and children exposed to opioids
- Novel medication options for opioid use disorder and overdose
- Clinical research in pain management
- Preclinical and translational research in pain management
“It’s clear that a multi-pronged scientific approach is needed to reduce the risks of opioids, accelerate development of effective non-opioid therapies for pain and provide more flexible and effective options for treating addiction to opioids,” said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., who launched the initiative in early 2018. “This unprecedented investment in the NIH HEAL Initiative demonstrates the commitment to reversing this devastating crisis.”