Developing Medications to Treat Addiction:
Implications for Policy and Practice

A Congressional Briefing Sponsored by The Friends OF NIDA
In conjunction with The Addiction, Treatment and Recovery Caucus

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

On May 11 the Friends of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) presented a timely briefing organized by APA, on developing medications to treat drug addiction and implications for policy and practice. Nora D. Volkow, MD, Director of NIDA, and A. Thomas McLellan, PhD, Deputy Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), addressed an interested audience of congressional staff members, addiction treatment professionals, and advocates.

Dr. Volkow began by presenting new medication research supported by NIDA. Pointing out the lack of effective approved medications to treat cocaine, marijuana, and opiate addictions, Dr. Volkow described the major barriers to funding for medication research and proposed strategies to address those barriers. Major barriers to funding included the stigma of addiction, lack of pharmaceutical industry involvement, cost and length of drug discovery process, and regulatory issues surrounding controlled substances. (NIDA has also released an information sheet on its medication development research.)

Next, Dr. McLellan, a psychological scientist, conveyed the state of drug addiction in the U.S. and illustrated the need for an improved infrastructure to deliver medication and other forms of addiction treatment. Dr. McLellan discussed the nature and course of drug use and addiction and the necessity for treatment, including specific medications and behavioral therapies.

This congressional briefing was particularly timely as the ONDCP released their National Drug Control Strategy the same day, proposing the creation of prevention-prepared communities. Dr. McLellan outlined this multifaceted communication and intervention strategy, which involves schools, parents, law enforcement, health-care providers, and environmental policies, to target children and adults at what are known to be the most susceptible stages of life. In a press release, APA applauded the ONDCP's evidence-based, public health approach.

Following the presentations, congressional staff members were eager to learn how Congress can act to promote medication development research and addiction treatment. One major focus of the question and answer session was the role that Congress can play in incentivizing pharmaceutical companies to fund research on medications to treat addiction.

Dr. Volkow's presentation [PDF]

Dr. McClellan's presentation [PDF]

Pictures from the briefing:

Nora D. Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, speaks at Friends of NIDA briefing on Capitol Hill, organized by APA.

Nora D. Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, speaks at Friends of NIDA briefing on Capitol Hill, organized by APA.
Psychologist  A. Thomas McLellan, Deputy Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, at Friends of NIDA briefing.

Psychologist A. Thomas McLellan, Deputy Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, at Friends of NIDA briefing.