NIH Is Developing ‘Behavioral’ Vaccines

The U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) is developing new “behavioral” vaccines, according to reports.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the taxpayer-funded NIH, has been working on the new vaccines that seek to change people’s behavior.

NIDA outlines the development of the vaccinations in its strategic plan.

The agency promotes the promise of “anti-addiction vaccines aimed at eliciting antibodies that block the effects of a specific drug.”

The plan states that the vaccines are being developed to combat drug addiction by altering a person’s behavior.

Certainly, drug addiction is a huge problem across America.

Opioid addiction leads the way and takes more than 140 American lives every day.

The opioid problem is, in part, due to lethal fentanyl being peddled.

Addiction to other drugs, including meth and, of course, alcohol, also has tragic and often deadly consequences.

The quest for an anti-addiction vaccine began in earnest when Drs. Nora D. Volkow, NIDA director, and Francis S. Collins, then-NIH director.

In a New England Journal of Medicine Special Report in 2017, they called on scientists and pharmaceutical companies to help develop vaccines specific against opioids.

The quest for such treatments continues.

According to Chemical and Engineering News, in the case of heroin, the behavioral vaccine works by stimulating “a person’s immune system to produce antibodies that bind to heroin.

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“The antibodies would block the drug from crossing the bloodstream into the brain, stopping the person from experiencing a high and preventing a relapse.”

In short, these antibodies “would shut down the narcotic before it could take root in the body, or in the brain,” according to The New York Times.

Many critics of the vaccine are uncomfortable with the biological approach to addiction embraced by NIDA.

NIDA plan would overlook the root cause of the addiction, which often comes back to previous trauma.

However, NIDA sees the problem in less personal terms.

“We have identified many of the biological and environmental factors [of addiction] and are beginning to search for the genetic variations that contribute to the development and progression of the disease,” Volkow, NIDA’s director, said in 2007.

A flier promoting Volkow’s presentation to the Commonwealth Club of California in 2013 reads that she believes “that all addictions can be eliminated if the brain’s receptors can be controlled.”

Some regard such remarks as Orwellian or disturbingly similar to the more subtle dystopia envisioned in “Brave New World.”

NIDA’s “brain disease” model not only enriches psychiatric drugmakers and Big Pharma, but it ignores all the societal reasons for drug addiction.

“Even the most effective anti-addiction vaccine can’t cure the underlying factors that make people prone to using drugs, including poverty, violence, and lack of opportunity,” Angela Garcia wrote in the Los Angeles Times.

“[The] underlying issues of addiction causality, including inequality, hopelessness, and the human desire for pleasure, cannot be addressed by a vaccine alone.”

Certainly, drug addiction has features of a social disease, and the areas where it’s concentrated reveal something about our broader culture and the daily conditions in which people find themselves.

People don’t seek an escape from drugs or alcohol for no reason at all, and some do become addicted.

Nor should we ignore the fact that even as lawsuits against opioid makers and sellers have proceeded, the opioid treatment drug Suboxone was a top seller in 2018 with sales of $859 million.

Drug addiction can clearly be a drug industry profit center.

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By Frank Bergman

Frank Bergman is a political/economic journalist living on the east coast. Aside from news reporting, Bergman also conducts interviews with researchers and material experts and investigates influential individuals and organizations in the sociopolitical world.

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