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Volume 12 Issue 6 - June 2018

HHS Provides 2nd Installment of Opioid-Crisis Grants

Officials with the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) recently announced the release of $485 million to continue the nation’s efforts to combat the ongoing opioid crisis. This second year of funding is available to all 50 states, four United States territories, and the free-associated states of Palau and Micronesia, according to officials.

“The Trump Administration is partnering with states and territories to accelerate the deployment of this historic level of resources provided by the congress to fight the epidemic,” said Alex Azar, HHS secretary. “These funds will help support evidence-based efforts at the state level to prevent misuse of opioids in the first place, expand access to effective treatment options for people in need, and support recovery for those who have prevailed.”

The Opioid State Targeted Response grants, which were created by the 21st Century Cures Act, are administered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) within HHS. Within the first year of the awards, states have used funding to support innovative models to connect Americans with evidence-based programs and practices proven to help people who live with opioid-use disorders, according to Elinore F. McCance-Katz, PhD, MD, assistant secretary for mental health and substance use at SAMHSA. 

Grantees have also reportedly used first-year funding to implement effective medication-assisted treatments, promote the use of naloxone and key prevention strategies, and build sustainable systems of recovery support services across the country. Prevention efforts also have included communications campaigns along with use of proven community-based strategies. 

The current funding is said to be one step in implementing HHS’ five-pronged strategy to address the opioid crisis. Within the next few months, SAMHSA will release details of a separate $1 billion grant funding opportunity for states, territories, and tribes hardest hit by the crisis, officials said. This new funding is expected to be awarded in September. Visit www.hhs.gov/opioids for more information on HHS’ efforts and details of the funding amounts for each state and territory. 

New HBOT Study Said to Benefit TBI Patients

Officials with the Emmes Corp., an organization based in Rockville, MD, that has reportedly conducted more than 1,000 Phase 1-4 clinical trials and research studies across a range of diseases, recently announced that a group of scientists and healthcare professionals has completed a multiyear clinical trial testing hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) as an intervention for United States military service members who have suffered mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) with persistent symptoms. The study, reportedly sponsored by the Department of Defense, included both active-duty and veteran military members. Researchers included professionals from LDS Hospital, Salt Lake City, UT; Lovelace Biomedical Environmental Research Institute, Albuquerque, NM, and the U.S. Army Medical and Materiel Development Activity at Fort Detrick, MD, as well as members of a study team who collaborated to write a paper that summarized the findings.  The paper has been published in the March/April 2018 edition of the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society Journal. The clinical research studied military personnel living with post-concussive symptoms three months to five years after mild TBI.  The randomized clinical trial evaluated participants’ specific symptoms and a range of other assessments, such as quality of life, sleep, cognitive processing, auditory, visual, and neuroimaging. HBOT was said to produce short-term improvement in self-reported post-concussive and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, as well as some cognitive processing speed and sleep measures, in comparison to a control group. These improvements regressed after six months, however. One notable finding was that improvements were most significant in trial participants suffering from both TBI and PTSD.

“Results suggest that hyperbaric oxygen may have a favorable effect that merits further study in service members, especially in those with PTSD,” said Lin Weaver, MD, principal investigator and a member of the hyperbaric medicine department of LDS Hospital. “This could be a promising avenue for further research.”