PCORI awards prison system $2M to study naltrexone benefit in opioid abuse

June 2, 2015

The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) recently awarded more than $2 million to the University of Pennsylvania for research on opioid addiction treatment and relapsing in the Philadelphia Prison System. The study assesses the effectiveness of naltrexone to prevent relapse.

The nation’s rising prescription drug and opioid abuse crisis is magnified among opioid-addicted individuals who are incarcerated because prisons rarely provide addiction treatment medications, many of which are narcotic-based and can be abused. This contributes to a high relapse rate.

Dr SelbyTo that end, the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) recently awarded more than $2 million to the University of Pennsylvania to conduct a study with the Philadelphia Prison System to assess the effectiveness of using naltrexone, a non-narcotic medication, to prevent relapse. Researchers hope to identify a clinically effective intervention that is supported by both correctional facilities and prisoners as part of an overall treatment plan.

“Jails and prisons have high rates of residents with opioid addiction, but rarely provide addiction treatment medication making drug relapse a common occurrence,” said PCORI Executive Director Joe Selby, MD, MPH.

Related:FDA: Final guidance on evaluation, labeling of abuse-deterrent opioids

“Methadone and buprenorphine are the most well-known treatment medications for opioid abuse, but few correctional facilities use them because they are narcotics and can be abused,” Dr Selby said. “Naltrexone has no potential for abuse.”

Related:Opioid addiction treatment in the ED better than referrals

In addition to receiving naltrexone, participants in the study will receive drug counseling and have a patient benefits manager to help restore benefits lost during incarceration. The study will determine if this care approach can reduce relapse rates in the first 3 months after release and improve the participants’ quality of life.

“Researchers hope to identify a clinically effective intervention that is supported by both correctional facilities and prisoners as part of an overall treatment plan,” said Dr Selby.

This research was part of PCORI’s announcement of 34 awards totaling $120 million to fund patient-centered comparative effectiveness research studies that will answer critical clinical questions in healthcare decision-marking. Since 2012, PCORI has funded 5 studies to address opioid use issues and an award to support community building and stakeholder engagement on this topic.

Read more:PCORI to give $138M to disease researchers