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I'm Rob Logan, Ph.D., senior staff, U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM).
Here is what's new this week in To Your Health, a consumer health oriented podcast from NLM, that helps you use MedlinePlus to follow up on weekly topics.
The National Institutes of Health will launch a scientific initiative to address the opioid crisis in the U.S., explains a special report recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse and NIH's director explain the new initiative will: develop better overdose-reversal and prevention interventions to reduce mortality from taking opioids; discover innovative medications and technologies to treat opioid addiction, and find safe, effective nonaddictive approaches to manage chronic pain (which often underlies the need to take opioid medications).
Nora Volkow M.D. and Francis Collins M.D. explain NIH will develop short, intermediate and long-term research strategies to address all three aforementioined areas.
For example, the authors note NIH will work with pharmaceutical and other medical product companies to develop stronger, longer-lasting medications (and we quote): 'to counteract the very-high potency synthetic opioids that are now claiming thousands of lives each year' (end of quote).
Volkow and Collins add more than 90 Americans now die daily from opioid overdoses.
Volkow and Collins explain NIH also will work to expand the availability of medications to treat the most severe forms of opioid addition. They note that currently there are only three approved medications that are available to treat opioid addiction.
The authors add (and we quote): 'Research is also under way to characterize the physiological signals that can predict an impending overdose, which would allow wearable devices to detect an overdose when it is occurring and signal for help, automatically inject naloxone, or both' (end of quote).
Volkow and Collins note NIH also will develop a new generation of powerful, nonaddicting opioid analgesics to help treat chronic pain. The authors explain a new generation of pain medications would deter manipulation for snorting or injecting, which is a current public health challenge. The authors also note NIH will work to better understand the complex physiological path of chronic pain and the transition in the body from acute to chronic pain to improve future medications and treatments.
Volkow and Collins conclude (and we quote): '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' (end of quote).
Meanwhile, the American Academy of Family Physicians provides a well-written overview of opioid addiction in MedlinePlus.gov's opioid abuse and addiction health topic page. The US Centers for Disease Controls and Prevention adds a website about preventing opioid overdoses within the 'prevention and risk factor' section of MedlinePlus.gov's opioid abuse and addiction health topic page.
Information tailored to children, teens, and women regarding opioid complications and misuse is provided within the 'children,' 'teenagers,' and 'women' sections of MedlinePlus.gov's opioid abuse and addiction health topic page.
MedlinePlus.gov's opioid abuse and addiction health topic page additionally provides links to the latest pertinent journal research articles, which are available in the 'journal articles' section. Clinical trials that may be occurring in your area can be found in the 'clinical trials' section. You can sign up to receive updates about opioid abuse and addiction as they become available on MedlinePlus.gov.
To find MedlinePlus.gov's opioid abuse and addiction health topic page, please type 'opioid abuse' in the search box on MedlinePlus.gov's home page, then, click on 'opioid abuse and addiction (National Library of Medicine).' MedlinePlus also has helpful health topic pages devoted to heroin and prescription drug abuse.
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