NIH will partner with pharma to tackle opioid crisis

Leaders from the National Institutes of Health outlined a new plan for addressing what has been dubbed the worst drug epidemic in American history by multiple public officials.


NIH Director Francis Collins, MD, and Nora Volkow, MD, head of the NIH's National Institute for Drug Abuse outline the plan in The New England Journal of Medicine.

The initiative will rely on partnerships with pharmaceutical companies to create new drugs to treat or prevent opioid abuse via the following three strategies:

  • Implementing improved overdose-reversal and prevention interventions by creating new drugs to counteract the high-potency of deadly synthetic opioids
  • Developing new medications to treat opioid addiction, including vaccines to bar opioids from entering the brain
  • Identifying efficacious medical treatments for chronic pain that are not addictive

"As we have seen repeatedly in the history of medicine, science is one of the strongest allies in resolving public health crises. Ending the opioid epidemic will not be any different," wrote the NIH leaders. "The scope of the tragedy of addiction and overdose deaths plaguing our country is daunting. With our partners, the NIH will take an 'all hands on deck' approach to developing and delivering the scientific tools that will help end this crisis and prevent it from reemerging in the future."

More articles on opioids: 
Opioids in America: 6 things to know about the evolution of an epidemic 
Ohio AG files suit against 5 drug manufacturers for role in opioid epidemic 
A 'mass-fatality event' — Ohio sees more than 4,000 overdose deaths in 2016

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