Companion legislation to the bipartisan EFFORT — Expanding Findings for Federal Opioid Research and Treatment — Act, introduced by Sens. Chris Coons, D-Delaware, and Cory Gardner, R-Colorado, was approved unanimously Nov. 13 by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.

The legislation would support research on opioid addiction by directing the National Science Foundation, in consultation with the National Institutes of Health, to fund merit-reviewed and competitively awarded research on the science of opioid addiction, allowing for further understanding of how to more effectively treat the multiple aspects of opioid addiction. The bill passed the House of Representatives in July and now moves to the full Senate for consideration.

“Opioid-related deaths have reached epidemic levels in Delaware and across the country,” said Coons. “We must use every tool at our disposal to address this crisis, which is why I have been proud to combat the importation of fentanyl, work to ensure better reporting of opioid shipments domestically, and support last year’s bipartisan bill to strengthen the federal response. It is also why I am excited to see this bill advance and to support increased investments in critical research that will deepen our understanding of the many facets of opioid addiction.”

Previous research by the NSF on opioid addiction has increased understanding of the neuroscience of addiction, substance abuse intervention, the secondary effects on families, and more. The EFFORT Act authorizes grants at $10 million for each of the coming five years, nearly twice the NSF’s current level of support for such research.

Last year, Coons and Gardner supported the bipartisan SUPPORT — Substance Use–Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment — for Patients and Communities Act that will provide critical tools to help combat the opioid epidemic. Coons and Gardner also introduced the Suspicious Order Identification Act, which guards against prescription drug diversion.