June 5, 2017

Executive Summary — Medications Development for Opioid Use Disorders and Overdose Prevention and Reversal

Cutting Edge Science Meeting Series to End the Opioid Crisis

As part of a government-wide effort to address the opioid crisis, NIH is initiating a public-private collaborative research initiative on (1) new and innovative medications and biologics to treat opioid addiction and for overdose prevention and reversal; (2) safe, effective, and non-addictive strategies to manage chronic pain; and (3) neurobiology of chronic pain.

To identify the scientific strategies with the greatest potential for solutions to the opioid problem, NIH is bringing together innovative experts from government, industry, and academia for a series of three cutting-edge science meetings. NIH seeks to pursue new approaches and recruit additional expertise with the aim of developing new safe and effective therapeutics for opioid abuse and chronic pain in half the time it currently takes.

The first of these meetings was held on June 5, entitled Medications Development for Opioid Use Disorders and Overdose Prevention and Reversal.

Key Themes

  • Families need and want the scientific and healthcare communities to have the same level of focus and urgency to receive quality care for addiction as they would for any disease that is taking over 50,000 lives each year.
  • Implementation issues present as significant a challenge as the need for new medications. In particular, reimbursement for medications for opioid use disorders.
  • Incentives are needed to encourage pharmaceutical and biotechnology company investment.
  • There is a need for better surveillance on overdoses and the use of naloxone to reverse them.
  • Technology can play a significant role in treating opioid use disorders and preventing overdose but more investment is needed.

Potential Next Steps

NIH is considering plans to:

  1. Establish and convene workgroups to explore how public-private partnerships can rapidly develop:
  2. New formulations of existing medications
  3. Medical devices to treat opioid use disorder and to prevent and treat overdose
  4. Networks of healthcare providers, including emergency departments, that can serve as infrastructure to rapidly deploy research
  5. Engage CMS to address reimbursement challenges for medications as well as medical devices that may disincentivize industry from investing in this area.
  6. Explore mechanisms to expedite NIH review of quality grant proposals. 

This page last reviewed on April 4, 2018