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Following Schatz Law To Boost Chronic Pain Research, NIH Discovers New Effective Treatments

WASHINGTON – In a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing yesterday, U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i), the co-author of the STOP Pain Act which was signed into law in 2016, requested an update from the National Institutes of Health on the progress the agency has made on chronic pain research.

In questions to Dr. Nora D. Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Schatz asked, “Dr. Volkow, my STOP Pain Act was enacted eight years ago and since then, NIH has funded hundreds of millions of dollars in pain management research. What have we learned in the last several years about chronic pain treatment?”

In response, Dr. Volkow said, “Thanks very much for the budget because it has actually energized that whole science infrastructure necessary to bring treatments that are effective for patients that are suffering from pain. Pain is devastating, is very, very prevalent. But it has been neglected. And as a result of that, many people with pain ended up getting drugs that were very dangerous, which of course contributed tremendously to the overdose crisis. So thanks to the resources that have come from, in part through the HEAL Initiative, we've been able to advance several clinical trials and to actually uncover new treatments for pain that are not addictive and that are effective, completely new molecular targets.”

Dr. Volkow continued, “The resources have also enabled us to understand how multi-pronged approaches can be used to manage pain on people with chronic pain conditions, and to other areas that we have never been able to investigate.”

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Video of the Senator’s exchange at today’s hearing is available here.