In This Issue

Advocacy update

Recent advocacy efforts include congressional briefings highlighting the research of medication development, the results of clinical trials with women veterans with PTSD, and the regulation of synthetic drugs

By V. Vatsalya and Marion Coe, BA

On March 1, 2012, a congressional briefing titled Developing Medications to Treat Addiction: Challenges for Science, Policy and Practice (PDF, 70KB) was sponsored by the FRIENDS OF NIDA in conjunction with the Addiction, Treatment and Recovery caucus. This briefing highlighted the multi-pronged strategy that the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) follows towards the research of medication development, including 1) emphasis of medications that have already approved for other indications that may have new potential application to addiction treatment, 2) new compounds that act upon recently discovered targets in brain circuits affected by addiction, 3) the use of biological agents (e.g. vaccines and engineered enzymes) that retard entry of addictive drugs into the brain, and 4) the combined effects of medications with existing and novel behavioral therapies. Eminent speakers consisting of NIDA director Nora Volkow, Phil Skolnick, David Gastfriend, and Shaun Thaxter provided their view on the current scientific, policy and industry perspective of medication development for addiction treatment.

More than 1,700 substance abuse professionals, grantees, and community partners gathered at the National Harbor in Maryland on February 6, 2012 for SAMHSA's [Substance Abuse and Menatl Health Services Administration] Prevention Day. Each year, Prevention Day is part of the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America's (CADCA's) Annual National Leadership Forum. The day long event provides a forum for participants to share experiences and information specific to the prevention of substance abuse and the promotion of mental health, as well as to network with other grantees and partners.

On April 25, 2012, Paula Schnurr, PhD, APA member and deputy executive director of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) National Center for PTSD [posttraumatic stress disorder], participated in a briefing on Capitol Hill. Schnurr, one of two featured VA scientists at the event, came to Washington at the invitation of APA’s Science Government Relations Office and the Friends of VA Coalition to brief members of Congress and their staff on the results of her clinical trials with women veterans suffering from PTSD and on the importance of funding the VA’s intramural research program. Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle, Chairwoman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Health, opened the briefing by urging her Congressional colleagues to support veterans through continued investment in veteran-centric research within the VA.

Finally, the Miami “cannibal” attack has initiated talks within congress to stop the manufacturing of Schedule I synthetic drugs such as bath salts and synthetic marijuana. Representative Sandy Adams helped push the “Combating Dangerous Synthetic Stimulus Act of 2011” through the House in December 2011. She is hopeful the Miami incident will provide the wake-up call Congress needs to get something done. In May 2011, the Senate passed a Food and Drug Administration bill that would ban many of the same chemicals identified in these synthetic drugs. Yet, at this time, the House and Senate have been unable to pass an identical bill to advance the regulation of synthetic drugs.

Stay informed of the actions of the APA Science Government Relations Office.

Specific information regarding the federal budget is available via a dedicated budget blog provided by the APA Science Government Relations Office.

Learn more about the history of the APA Science Government Relations Office advocacy efforts.