“President’s FY 2016 budget includes critical investments to intensify efforts to reduce opioid misuse and abuse, including $133 million in new funding to address this critical issue.”
– HHS Press Office. March 26, 2015 Press Release. 2015
When thinking about the federal government’s involvement with health care, many people will immediately think of the Affordable Care Act’s recent effects on health insurance. Far fewer people will think of the government’s strategy to deal with opioid addiction, a plan that could save lives. Three federal organizations, U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), are working to treat and prevent opioid addiction in the United States.
In March, HHS announced a three-part plan to treat and prevent opioid addiction. The department will educate healthcare professionals about opioid prescribing. It will continue to support use of naloxone, a drug that can treat an opioid-induced overdose. HHS will also increase the use of medication-assisted treatment, including use of buprenorphine.
The CDC plans to prevent further opioid addiction through the creation of a funding opportunity, Prescription Drug Overdose for the States. The program funds monitoring of prescription drugs, prescription drug abuse prevention and policy evaluations, all at the state level. The CDC also plans to develop guidelines for prescribing opioids.
The FDA plans to prevent further opioid addiction through the encouragement and approval of safe and effective nonopioid analgesics. The organization also plans to continue supporting drugs that treat opioid overdoses. The FDA has already approved a handheld naloxone auto-injector and has been working with drug manufacturers on an intranasal formulation, according to 2015 testimony to Congress.
The federal government, through the HHS, CDC and FDA, plans to treat and prevent further opioid addiction on a systemic level. Orbis Biosciences is helping on a smaller level through the development of a long-lasting analgesic. Our drug can improve compliance and decrease the number of patients at risk for opioid dependence and addiction. If manufacturers and policy makers continue to implement plans to treat and prevent opioid abuse, people may remember not health insurance policies, but lives saved from addiction and overdose.