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Shaheen & Bipartisan Group of Senators Send Letter in Support of Enhanced Research and Development of Methamphetamine Treatment Options

Senators Write Letter with Overdoses on the Rise Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

(Washington, DC) — This week, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) sent a letter with a bipartisan group of Senators led by Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) in support of efforts to research and develop effective medication treatment options for those struggling with addiction to methamphetamine and other stimulants. Overdose cases due to opioids, meth and polysubstance use are on the rise, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic with increased social isolation and limited in-person recovery options. There are currently no FDA-approved medication options for those in treatment for methamphetamine use disorder.

“The usage of medications, as evidenced by numerous studies, has been a powerful tool in the effort to combat opioid addiction. Supporting basic and translational research around the development of medications for methamphetamine use disorder is critical to addressing the increase in methamphetamine-associated deaths. We are encouraged by the results of the ADAPT-2 trial and ask that you keep us updated on the efforts at NIDA and its partners in the development of treatments to address methamphetamine use disorder,” wrote the Senators.

In their letter, the Senators wrote that they are encouraged by a recent NIDA announcement detailing potentially promising research findings related to medication treatment options for methamphetamine use disorder and encourage further investment and expedited research focused on developing effective treatments. 

The Senators also asked for answers to several questions from NIDA officials, including how much funding is currently being dedicated to research of potential medications, the progress of clinical trials, steps being taken to ensure diversity in clinical trials and best current approaches for treating stimulant use disorder until medication treatments are available.

In addition to Shaheen, Brown and Capito, the letter was signed by U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Bob Casey (D-PA), Steve Daines (R-MT), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Jon Tester (D-MT).

A copy of the Senators’ letter can be found HERE.

In government funding legislation signed into law in 2019, Shaheen included a key provision from her standalone bill – the Turn the Tide Act – to provide flexibility for treatment providers to use State Opioid Response (SOR) grant dollars to help patients suffering from meth and cocaine dependency, in addition to opioid use disorder. Shaheen wrote the provision in response to discussions with New Hampshire treatment providers. Shaheen retained this provision in government funding legislation for fiscal year (FY) signed into law in December. The FY2021 funding legislation also $1.5 billion in SOR grant funding, as well as the continuing of a 15 percent set-aside that Shaheen fought to secure in 2018. Over the past four years, New Hampshire has received approximately $92 million from these grants to combat the opioid epidemic in the state, with the hardest-hit state set-aside responsible for the majority of those funds. The COVID relief package provides $4.25 billion in funding for substance use disorder treatment and mental health care, recognizing that the COVID-19 pandemic can compound the nation’s substance use disorder epidemic.