FDA will broaden how it evaluates new addiction treatment drugs

The Food and Drug Administration recently announced a shift in the way it evaluates drugs to treat opioid addiction that the agency says will give it more flexibility to approve new treatments.

Now, rather than merely examining whether a potential treatment reduces opioid use, the agency will consider factors like whether a drug could reduce overdose rates or the transmission of infectious diseases.

“We must consider new ways to gauge success beyond simply whether a patient in recovery has stopped using opioids, such as reducing relapse overdoses and infectious disease transmission,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement.

The announcement is the latest in a string of efforts to improve the federal government’s response to the growing opioid crisis, which also includes legislation on Capitol Hill that aims to ensure treatment is evidence-based and, separately, to ensure more federal programs will pay for methadone treatment.

Lev Facher/STAT