Boston Children’s Hospital to Host Webinar on Precision Vaccine Development to Combat the Opioid Epidemic

On Tuesday, November 12, 2:00pm – 3:00pm, Boston Children’s Hospital will be hosting a webinar entitled “Developing a Precision Vaccine to Protect Against Heroin and Fentanyl.” The 60-minute briefing will discuss ongoing efforts by researchers to develop precision vaccines to address the nation’s prescription opioid crisis and other concurrent health challenges, including the public policy challenges and opportunities faced.

Speakers will include:

  • Sharon Levy, MD, MPH, Director, Adolescent Substance use and Addiction Program
  • Ofer Levy, MD, PhD, Director, Precision Vaccines Program; and
  • David Dowling, PhD, Primary Investigator, Adjuvant Discovery & Development Lab, Precisions Vaccine Program

Any questions or RSVPs can be directed towards Allison Doyle at: [email protected].


Briefing Notice and Background

Zoom Webinar

White House Launches Website for SUD Treatment, Announces 5.1% Drop in 2018 Overdose Rates

The White House and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) announced on Wednesday the launch of, a website dedicated to connect individuals seeking treatment for substance use disorders to more than 13,000 locations of care throughout the United States. The SAMHSA-led database includes information on access and availability of residential and outpatient treatment options, detoxification, and interim care.

“Addiction demands treatment, not judgment. We know that finding access to the right provider, at the right time, can be essential to helping someone start on the road to recovery. Now, thanks to, more Americans will have easier ways to the find the treatment that they or loved ones might need,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar.

SAMHSA’s Dr. Elinore McCance-Katz continued, noting “An easily-accessible system to locate treatment will be a critical tool for individuals to get the care they need. Increasing treatment access is an integral part of the approach to address substance use disorders across the country.”

During the announcement of the website launch, White House and agency staff announced preliminary data indicated a 5.1% decrease in overdose deaths throughout 2018 with significant declines in states like Ohio (24%), Pennsylvania (23%), Iowa (19%), and Kentucky (17%). Simultaneously, it was announced that there has been a near 400% increase in prescribing of naloxone and 28% increase in individuals accessing medication-assisted treatment.

It was also announced last week that White House Council of Economic Advisors analysis indicated the impact of the opioid epidemic to be $696 billion per year or more than $2.5 trillion between 2015-2018.

Articles & Resources

White House Newsroom – Launches to Help More Americans Find Treatment for Substance Use Disorders

HHS Newsroom – HHS Secretary Azar, SAMHSA Assistant Secretary McCance-Katz Statements on Launch of FindTreatment.Gov

Bloomberg Law – Overdose Deaths Drop Sharply in States Hard Hit by Opioid Crisis

White House Newsroom – The Full Cost of the Opioid Crisis: $2.5 Trillion Over Four Years

Durbin, Kennedy Urge Drop in DEA Opioid Quota

On Friday, Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and John Kennedy (R-LA) sent a letter to DEA Acting Administrator Uttam Dhillon in response to publication of the proposed 2020 quota for controlled substances. Consistent with previous comments from the Senators around the risk associated with overprescribing and increased availability, the letter emphasizes the ability for decreased availability to reduce illicit use and diversion. Senators Durbin and Kennedy were co-sponsors of the Opioid Quota Reform Act of 2018, included as section 3282 of the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act, that would afford DEA increased flexibility and transparency in setting quotas to account for the risk of diversion, overdose, and public health implications.

Articles & Resources

Sen. Durbin Newsroom – Durbin, Kennedy Urge DEA To Use Its New Authorities To Lower Opioid Quotas

Letter to Acting DEA Administrator Dhillon from Senators Durbin and Kennedy

What We Read Last Week

Several articles were published last week pertaining to the opioid epidemic, covering a variety of different components of the issue. Links to relevant articles are provided below.

Articles & Resources

Journal of the American Medical Association – The Opioid Crisis, Corporate Responsibility, and Lessons From the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement

Bloomberg Government – Purdue Pharma Fights Arizona’s Clawback at Supreme Court

Washington Post – State of Virginia Sues Teva Pharmaceuticals Over Opioids

STAT News – Realizing the Promise of Prescription Digital Therapeutics

Modern Healthcare – Peer Recovery Helping Patients with Addiction Seek Treatment

Wall Street Journal – Startups Offer Apps, Digital Tools to Provide Addiction Care

Sen. Grassley Newsroom – Lawmakers Propose Bipartisan, Bicameral Bill to Staunch Influx of Deadly Synthetic Drugs

Bloomberg Government – White House Launches Website Aimed At Addiction Treatment

Washington Post – White House Unveils Website to Streamline Search for Drug Treatment

White House Newsroom – ONDCP Announces 150 New Drug-Free Communities Grants Aimed at Preventing Youth Substance Use

Food and Drug Administration – What to Ask Your Doctor Before Taking Opioids

FDA Impact Story – Preclinical Research to Achieve Safer Prescribing of Psychoactive Therapeutics for Patients Who Use Opioids

Drug Enforcement Administration – Drug Enforcement Administration Announces Creation of U.S. Postal Service Drug-Free Stamp

Department of Justice – Tennessee Medical Doctor and Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Charged in Scheme to Unlawfully Distribute Controlled Substances

U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky – Magoffin County Nurse Sentenced to 24 Months for Tampering with Hospital Medication

U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California – Seven Charged with Crimes Related to the Manufacture and Distribution of Pills Laced with Fentanyl and Other Controlled Substances

U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania – Montgomery County Doctor Agrees to Pay $1.4 Million to Resolve Allegations of Improper Opioid Prescribing After Pleading Guilty to Related Criminal Charges

U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania – Opioid Treatment Practice Owner Sentenced for Illegal Distribution of Buprenorphine and Health Care Fraud

U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia – Georgia Pharmacist Admits Lying About Filling Prescriptions for High-Volume Opioid Doctors

U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia – Former Union General Hospital CEO and Blairsville Doctor Convicted of Illegally Prescribing and Obtaining More Than 15,000 Pain Pills from Pharmacies in Three States

U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Florida – Former Jacksonville Beach Doctor’s Office Employee Pleads Guilty To Opioid Distribution Conspiracy

This Week’s Calendar – No Opioid Events Noticed

The House and Senate are in town for a full week’s worth of business. At this time, however, there are no relevant hearings or events related to opioids on the calendar. Should there be any additions to House or Senate schedules or updates with respect to additional events, this information will be made available.

Questions about the above content can be directed to [email protected].