Virginia Catalyst grant to support project designed to reduce repeat opioid overdoses

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The Virginia Biosciences Health Research Corp., known as the Virginia Catalyst, announced Monday it is giving a $500,000 grant to a project focused on the treatment and care of patients recovering from opioid overdoses

The project team includes Virginia Commonwealth University, Virginia Tech, Inova Health System and Indivior Inc., a global pharmaceutical company based in Richmond. Indivior will provide a matching grant of $500,000.

The goal of the project is to develop a treatment procedure for opioid patients to reduce repeat overdose rates and death, according to Dr. F. Gerard Moeller, who directs VCU’s Institute for Drug and Alcohol studies. “We believe that our project will be the first to test medication treatment initiated in the emergency room after an opioid overdose followed by seamless outpatient treatment with a new once-monthly injectable medication for chronic treatment of opioid use disorder. Our goal is to test whether this new paradigm significantly reduces repeat overdose rates and death,” Moeller said in a statement.

The project is part of the seventh round of funding from the Virginia Catalyst. Two other projects are pending.

Virginia Catalyst is a nonprofit corporation funded by Virginia’s General Assembly and seven of Virginia’s research universities. The organization is designed to commercialize research in Virginia by encouraging cooperation among universities and private industry.

“We know that treatment programs work if they combine medication with continuing addiction health care and support,” Dr. Warren Bickel, director of the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute’s Addiction Recovery Research Center, said in a statement. “When people arrive at the emergency room to recover from an overdose, their withdrawal symptoms will be treated, and they will receive behavioral counseling without delay. After treatment, continued help will only be a phone call away. With this new protocol, we expect to show the number of repeat overdoses will fall.”

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