Penn Medicine to participate in NIH opioid treatment study

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Penn Presbyterian Medical Center has been chosen as one of the sites for a clinic study for the National Institutes of Health’s Helping to End Addiction Long-term (HEAL) initiative.

The study will look at the effectiveness of two different methods emergency departments can you to initiate medication-assisted therapy in opioid use disorder patients.

Beginning in September, the study will be led by Jeanmarie Perrone, MD, professor of Emergency Medicine and director of the Center for Addiction Medicine and Policy.

Penn Medicine, which consists of the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Pennsylvania Health System, will be one of 30 sites to receive funding to conduct the study that will be led by NIDA Clinical Trials Network’s New England Consortium Node at Yale University.

The study is part of NIH’s $945 million initiative to study whether the prescription of buprenorphine in the emergency department helps to begin treatment immediately and bridge the gap between the time patients are discharged from the hospital until they receive outpatient follow-up care.

Penn Presbyterian will be among the sites that administer two different forms of the buprenorphine – in pill form taken under the tongue and as an injection, the effects of which last for seven days. Researchers estimate the NIH study will enroll roughly 2,000 patients over its 18 month period.

“I have already witnessed the power of this new treatment strategy through our own program to stabilize a patient with opioid use for the first week to allow them a glimpse of recovery,” Perrone said. “This allows for them to be more prepared mentally and physically when they meet their follow-up provider to continue in treatment.”

Penn Medicine established the Center for Opioid Recovery and Engagement (CORE) in 2018, and Perrone serves as its medical director. Its main program is to identify and offer recovery help to patients treated at Penn Medicine emergency departments who are diagnosed with opioid use disorder.

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