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Foundation Awards Initial Grants to Improve Access to OUD Treatment

March 26, 2020

Demonstrating that the search for effective, sustainable responses to the opioid crisis has not lost momentum, a new national foundation's first request for proposals garnered nearly 450 letters of intent. The Foundation for Opioid Response Efforts (FORE) this month announced the 19 projects that will be funded, in a first round that will focus on improving access to opioid use disorder (OUD) treatment.

FORE President Karen Scott, MD, MPH, tells Addiction Professional that the funded projects will develop solutions to improve access to treatment for a wide variety of vulnerable populations, from pregnant women to adolescents to rural dwellers to the justice-involved. “We were looking for projects that we felt provided a lot of opportunity for learning,” Scott says.

She adds it was important to see in applicants some evidence of a strategy for longer-term sustainability of an initiative, beyond a plan simply to apply for another grant at the end of the project period. Projects were eligible for up to two years of funding from FORE at a maximum total of $600,000.

FORE was founded in 2018 with initial funding of $100 million from McKesson Corp., though the foundation operates as a private entity separate from McKesson's corporate structure. It is seeking to advance patient-centered, innovative and evidence-based solutions to assist persons with OUD and their families and communities. Longtime addiction treatment and policy leader Andrea Barthwell, MD, chairs FORE's board of directors.

Diversity of recipients

The 19 funded projects include both national initiatives and state and local programs. Here are some of the access-focused initiatives that were selected:

  • A three-organization national initiative to advance progress on care for patients with OUD in emergency departments. This will include efforts in both California and Massachusetts to improve access to OUD medication in emergency settings.

  • A Michigan State University and University of Maryland project to train peer recovery coaches to promote low-income patients' adherence to medication treatment.

  • Funding for “Jenna's Project” under the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Horizons Program, supporting women's reentry from prison and reconnection with their children.

  • The Allegheny Health Network's mobile community-based engagement effort for individuals in western Pennsylvania.

Another important factor in the project review process, Scott says, was the presence of strong implementation teams in a position to start the work. Also, FORE is looking to identify models that can be shared with other entities for wider adoption.

FORE's efforts are starting with work around access to treatment, but Scott explains “we strongly think our work needs to take a comprehensive approach.” As the foundation's work continues, it will begin to delve into other important topics associated with the opioid crisis, such as provider education, payment strategies and public awareness, she says.

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