ARPA-Funded Opioid Addiction Research Lab to be Considered by Legislature

Sep 28, 2022


Contact: Rep. T.J. Marti

Phone: (405) 557-7356

The Legislature reconvened the Second Extraordinary Session of the 58th Legislature on Wednesday, Sept. 28, to consider bills allocating American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, including a project to help Oklahomans suffering from opioid addiction.

Legislators will consider directing $50 million to create a Pharmaceutical Development Lab at the National Center for Wellness & Recovery at Oklahoma State University (OSU) Center for Health Sciences, located in Tulsa.

The lab would pursue research into non-opioid pain management therapeutics, less addictive pain management drugs, new ways of determining levels of pain and drug overdoses reversals.

Following the historic settlement between the State of Oklahoma and Purdue Pharma in 2019, OSU received decades of data from Purdue Pharma. The center will work with addiction recovery clinics and in partnership with the University of Arizona on the research. Additionally, the center also receives around $4.5 million annually from the National Center for Addiction Studies and Treatment (NCAST) Foundation.

Deaths from drug overdoses, including opioids, rose nationally during the pandemic.

Rep. T.J. Marti, R-Broken Arrow, said this need is especially important because of the federal government's crackdown on prescription narcotics, which has led to an exponential increase in fentanyl-related overdose deaths. Additionally, many Oklahomans continue to suffer symptoms of long COVID, including pain, which Marti said could lead them to seek out medication for their pain in the coming years.

""Deaths from opioid overdoses are devastating, but they are an unfortunate reality for many families in our state, and we may see that statistic increasing in the future,"" Marti said. ""The Legislature has a unique opportunity now to invest in a program that could save thousands of lives.""

Sen. John Haste, R-Broken Arrow, was co-chair of the Joint Committee on Pandemic Relief Funding Health and Human Services working group.

“Opioid addiction and overdose deaths increased by 30 percent nationwide during the pandemic, but skyrocketed by 62 percent in Oklahoma,” Haste said. “I’m also extremely concerned about our country’s increasing reliance on medications manufactured in China and India. Being able to develop safe, effective drugs here in Oklahoma will help better address the opioid crisis and meet other critical medical needs.”

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