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NIDA. (2003, November 1). Bulletin Board. Retrieved from

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November 01, 2003

Buprenorphine Work Group Receives HHS Award for Distinguished Service

The Buprenorphine Work Group, comprising representatives from NIDA, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), was honored at the 2003 Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Honor Awards ceremony on June 11 in Washington, D.C. The Work Group received the Secretary's Distinguished Service Award for its diligence and dedication and the impact of its contribution on the citizenry of our Nation.

October 2002 was a crowning moment in the Work Group's efforts, marking FDA approval of buprenorphine for treatment of opiate dependence, nearly a decade after the last breakthrough medication for opiate addiction. FDA approval allows physicians to dispense buprenorphine in their offices to patients addicted to heroin and prescription pain relievers, enhancing convenience and privacy.

This achievement was truly a joint effort. NIDA members worked with the pharmaceutical company Reckitt Benckiser to perform the studies necessary to establish safety and efficacy. NIDA also teamed with SAMHSA on implementation issues, such as physician training and waiver certification to allow physicians to prescribe buprenorphine.

HHS Deputy Secretary Claude Allen presented the award to the group. Current and former NIDA employees honored include Peter Bridge, M.D.; Lee Cummings, J.D.; Timothy Condon, Ph.D.; Dorynne Czechowicz, M.D.; Nora Chiang, Ph.D.; Joel Egertson; Ahmed Elkashef, M.D.; Liza Gorgon; Charles Grudzinskas, Ph.D.; Richard Hawks, Ph.D.; Mary Mayhew; Susan Herbert (posthumously); James Hill, Ph.D. (posthumously); Moo Park, Ph.D.; James Terrill, Ph.D.; Frank Vocci, Ph.D.; and Robert Walsh.

Dr. Frank Vocci, director of NIDA's Division of Treatment Research and Development, noted the individual strengths of team members in this joint effort and highlighted one member's work. "Of all the individuals honored, I'd like to single out Sue Herbert. During the last 2 years of her life, Sue underwent treatment for the cancer to which she ultimately succumbed. She missed very little work and made it clear to me that the buprenorphine project was very important to her. Sue's dedication was inspirational; the work and the award are now part of her personal legacy."