Aerial view of UNM HSC campus
By Michael Haederle

Substantial Study

UNM’s Participation in National Drug Abuse Treatment Clinical Trials Network Bears Fruit

Four years into a five-year $9.6 million grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), Kimberly Page says an expansive study of substance use treatments in rural and underserved populations is bearing fruit.

“We are currently engaged in six trials,” says Page, a professor in The University of New Mexico Department of Internal Medicine, who serves as principal investigator for the grant, a part of NIDA’s National Drug Abuse Treatment Clinical Trials Network. “They’re all related to the prevention and treatment of drug abuse and dependence.”

The grant brings together researchers from the UNM School of Medicine’s Departments of Internal Medicine, Emergency Medicine, Family & Community Medicine and Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, the UNM College of Pharmacy and departments on UNM’s Central Campus.


Kimberly Page, PhD, MPH
It is a huge collaboration with multiple groups and across campus. I’m really proud of that. It impacts the university all around
Kimberly Page, PhD, MPH

“It is a huge collaboration with multiple groups and across campus. I’m really proud of that,” Page says. “It impacts the university all around.”

UNM is the Southwest node in the Clinical Trials Network, one of 18 nodes located throughout the U.S. Each of the partner institutions, including Yale University, UCLA, Dartmouth College, New York University, Oregon Health & Science University and Stanford University, carries out research in their region and contribute the pool of data.

In a project involving UNM’s Center on Alcohol, Substance Use & Addictions (CASAA), researchers are evaluating culturally center medications to treat opioid use disorder for American Indians, Page says.

Another initiative, due to start soon, will study a pharmacist-integrated model for medication treatment for opioid use disorder.

Changes in regulations pertaining to the delivery of methadone implemented in response to the COVID epidemic are the subject of another study. The regulatory change permitted patients to take home doses of methadone, rather than requiring them to appear in person to receive a daily dose.

“It allows people to get on with daily functioning and work without having to show up at a clinic every day,” Page says. The study will assess whether this approach improves adherence to the methadone treatment regimen.

Another study compares the standard induction protocol offered in hospital emergency departments for buprenorphine, a medication that treats opioid addiction, with a long-lasting buprenorphine formulation.

“We’re trying to see whether that impacts their retention and care when they get discharged from the emergency department,” she says. “The ED is a real front line for dealing with opioid use.”

Researchers are also comparing daily sublingual buprenorphine dosing with a once-weekly extended-release form for pregnant women, Page says.

Researchers are also looking for ways to enhance participation by rural and diverse populations in clinical research.

“We have a study exploring health beliefs to increase community participation and diversity in clinical trials,” Page says. A UNM team is partnering with a New Mexico State University team to create a toolkit to inform providers and potential patients about taking part in clinical trials.

In addition to running clinical trials Page and her colleagues have also offered seminars and workshops for the faculty and community at large. “Those have been extremely well attended,” she says.

“We’re very happy,” she says. “We’re doing a ton of work.”

Categories: Community Engagement, Research, School of Medicine, Top Stories