Amid a massive opioid crisis, affecting large number of people in the Hoosier state, the Indiana University (IU) has decided to dedicate $50 million for research to determine ways to thwart the state’s opioid mess.
The joint effort by the Indiana University Health, the state government, and Eskenazi Health, would be using the services of more than 70 researchers from different departments and will use the money for over a period of five years.
According to IU president Michael McRobbie, it is the largest and the most comprehensive collaboration to combat the opioid menace. It has the backing of the state government, and the effort is something that no university has attempted in the past.
Indiana is one of the worst-hit states with overdose deaths becoming quotidian. It is one of four states, where the fatal drug overdose rate has leapfrogged more than four times since 1999. “People are dying and we must act. Now is the time to bring to bear the resources of all IU campuses to help address and mitigate this destructive and deadly public health crisis,” said McRobbie.
The state authorities appreciated the initiative, which was a part of the university’s “Grand Challenges Program”. Speaking about the efforts of the university, at a press conference at the Statehouse, Governor Eric Holcomb said, “I see it as a grand opportunity to do what we do best and confront the issues that face our state. The new commitment, the Grand Challenge from Indiana University, is beyond a grand challenge and is definitely going to save thousands of lives.”
Fred Cate, vice president for IU research confirmed that the first $13 million would be used for a dozen projects that would be under way by the year-end. The second phase of projects would start in the middle of the next year. Apart from the dedicated researchers of the university, the program will also utilize the services of experts from the nursing school, medical school, law school and others. In addition to the professionals from the health fraternity, specialists from the Public and Environmental Affairs, as well as social workers would also contribute in this endeavor.
Dr. Robin Newhouse, team leader for the initiative, and Dean of the IU School of Nursing and Research, said that the research would collect real-time data on multiple aspects, like the practice of filling of opioid prescriptions at multiple pharmacies by the same person or seeking admission to the emergency department, in order to provide a more accurate picture to the local community leaders working against the epidemic. The data would also help the experts “develop a better understanding of the neurobiological, social, behavioral mechanisms that underlie addiction and pain response to addiction,” she added.
One can hope that this honest effort by the university and federal agencies along with healthcare fraternity will bring about fruitful results and help save people from the clutches of the opioid epidemic.
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