(Federal government to spend nearly $1 Billion to find non-opioid solutions)


The search for relief from chronic pain without the risk of potentially deadly opioid addiction will get a boost as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) spends nearly a billion dollars over this fiscal year to look for less addictive pain relievers. 

The funding, totaling $945 million, will go to 375 grants or programs that seek treatments for chronic pain or reducing opioid abuse, says NIH Director Francis S Collins, who calls it an “unprecedented” investment—the largest NIH has ever made in one year to tackle a single problem.  

Leigh Purvis, AARP’s director of health services research, welcomed the news.  “It will help ensure efforts to address the ongoing opioid crisis do not negatively affect patients with legitimate medical needs.”

Studies receiving funding are taking many different approaches, including Oakland’s Kaiser Foundation Research Institute, which is testing acupuncture for chronic lower back pain; Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, which is investigating the use of opioids in patients undergoing total joint replacement; and Philadelphia’s Drexel University, where researchers are studying how music therapy can relieve pain in cancer patients.

“Research funding is tremendously important right now,” says Ajay Wasan, M.D., of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, who is overseeing two funded studies.  “The field is already moving away from opioid use to manage chronic pain, but there’s still work to do.”


(as written in AARP Bulletin, November 2019)