Feds Spent Over $300 Million On Failed Study To Stop Opioid Deaths

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The National Institutes of Health (NIH) spent $344 million on a failed study to reduce opioid overdose deaths, according to The New England Journal of Medicine.

The Helping End Addiction Long-term (HEALing) Communities Study spent 12 months implementing strategies including overdose education programs and local naloxone distribution to curtail deaths related to opioids in 34 communities across the United States, while 33 communities served as control groups, according to the study. The difference between the intervention group and the control group was not statistically significant.

“In this 12-month multimodal intervention trial involving community coalitions in the deployment of evidence-based practices to reduce opioid overdose deaths, death rates were similar in the intervention group and the control group in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic and the fentanyl-related overdose epidemic,” the researchers concluded.

The NIH spent $344 million on the study, using congressional funds appropriated in 2017 for drug abuse related research to fund the participating communities, according to STAT news. The participating communities received the intervention strategies between January 2020 and June 2022, with comparisons in opioid deaths between the control and the intervention-receiving communities starting in July 2021, according to an National Institute on Drug Abuse press release.

In addition to overdose education and naloxone distribution, researchers also implemented “the use of medications for the treatment of opioid use disorder, and prescription opioid safety” as “evidence-based practices,” according to the study. Of the 615 “evidence-based” strategies implemented, “only 235 (38%) had been initiated by the start of the comparison year.”

Program director Redonna Chandler referenced the pandemic as one reason for the study’s outcome, noting that the study “doesn’t negate, in any way, the evidence that suggests the strengths of those interventions,” STAT News reported. (RELATED: Partner At Firm Under Investigation For Role In Opioid Crisis Sat On Veteran Health Panel With Dem Governors)

“While our communities continued working in the background, we weren’t able to get into hospitals. We weren’t able to get into jails. We weren’t able to get into a lot of the places and spaces where we wanted to implement our evidence-based practices,” she said, according to STAT News.

The New England Journal of Medicine and the NIH did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment. The National Institute for Drug Abuse deferred to the press release.

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