Montefiore Medical Center And Albert Einstein College of Medicine Awarded $3.4 Million NIH Grant To Integrate Opioid And Tobacco Addiction Treatment

NEW YORK, July 12 , 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Researchers at Montefiore Health System and Albert Einstein College of Medicine were awarded a $3.4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to implement a smoking cessation study for people with opioid use disorder (OUD). The study will examine a novel approach: incorporating a medication that reduces tobacco cravings into an opioid rehabilitation program. Conducted at Montefiore-affiliated clinics in the Bronx, the project will provide smoking cessation support to a diverse population that often lacks resources to quit tobacco and is disproportionately affected by tobacco-related diseases.

"As the opioid epidemic skyrockets, smoking has become the leading cause of death for people struggling with substance use," says Shadi Nahvi, M.D., M.S., attending physician at Montefiore and associate professor of medicine and of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Einstein. "By simultaneously treating opioid and tobacco addiction, we can help people who are often left out of smoking cessation programs achieve their goals of leading healthier lives."

In earlier research, Dr. Nahvi and her team found that 10 percent of opioid-dependent smokers who were given varenicline (Chantix), a prescription drug that decreases cravings and the pleasurable effects of tobacco products, were able to quit smoking.  They also determined that the success rate doubled when patients were offered adherence support. Using "directly observed therapy," the medication was dispensed and taken in-person by opioid treatment program nurses. These results inspired Dr. Nahvi's team to launch this program to further optimize smoking cessation success rates for patients receiving opioid treatment.

Dr. Nahvi and her team will recruit 450 patients who smoke from Montefiore's Division of Substance Abuse (DoSA) to:

  • Compare success rates of patients who take varenicline on their own, to those who receive directly observed varenicline therapy, from nurses at their opioid treatment programs.
  • Compare long-term varenicline use (6 months) to short-term varenicline use (3 months) in helping people quit smoking.
  • Better understand how psychological, social and genetic factors affect a patient's success of quitting smoking.  

In a 2006 survey, Montefiore researchers found that 83 percent of patients in its substance abuse clinics were current smokersfive times the rate found in the overall New York City population. Nearly half of the smokers in the Montefiore survey were thinking about quitting in the next six months, and an additional 22 percent were immediately ready to quit.

Dr. Nahvi will have collaborators on the study:   Einstein investigators Julia Arnsten, M.D., M.P.H (Co-I), professor of medicine (general internal medicine); of epidemiology & population health; and of psychiatry and behavioral sciences; chief, Division of General Internal Medicine; and Director, Center for Comparative Effectiveness Research; and Moonseong Heo, Ph.D., (Statistician), professor of epidemiology & population health; as well as researchers from Fordham University, the University of Kansas, the University of Toronto, and the University of California, San Francisco.

About Montefiore Health System
Montefiore Health System is one of New York's premier academic health systems and is a recognized leader in providing exceptional quality and personalized, accountable care to approximately three million people in communities across the Bronx, Westchester and the Hudson Valley. It is comprised of 11 hospitals, including the Children's Hospital at Montefiore, Burke Rehabilitation Hospital and close to 200 outpatient care sites. The advanced clinical and translational research at its medical school, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, directly informs patient care and improves outcomes. From the Montefiore-Einstein Centers of Excellence in cancer, cardiology and vascular care, pediatrics, and transplantation, to its preeminent school-based health program, Montefiore is a fully integrated healthcare delivery system providing coordinated, comprehensive care to patients and their families. For more information please visit Follow us on Twitter and view us on Facebook and YouTube.

About Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Albert Einstein College of Medicine is one of the nation's premier centers for research, medical education and clinical investigation. During the 2015-2016 academic year, Einstein is home to 731 M.D. students, 193 Ph.D. students, 106 students in the combined M.D./Ph.D. program, and 278 postdoctoral research fellows. The College of Medicine has more than 1,900 full-time faculty members located on the main campus and at its clinical affiliates. In 2015, Einstein received $148 million in awards from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This includes the funding of major research centers at Einstein in aging, intellectual development disorders, diabetes, cancer, clinical and translational research, liver disease, and AIDS. Other areas where the College of Medicine is concentrating its efforts include developmental brain research, neuroscience, cardiac disease, and initiatives to reduce and eliminate ethnic and racial health disparities. Its partnership with Montefiore Medical Center, the University Hospital and academic medical center for Einstein, advances clinical and translational research to accelerate the pace at which new discoveries become the treatments and therapies that benefit patients. Through its extensive affiliation network involving Montefiore, Jacobi Medical CenterEinstein's founding hospital, and three other hospital systems in the Bronx, Brooklyn and on Long Island, Einstein runs one of the largest residency and fellowship training programs in the medical and dental professions in the United States. For more information, please visit, read our blog, follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and view us on YouTube.


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SOURCE Montefiore Medical Center

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