Research partnership with Stanford University will assess Ria Health’s program effectiveness at decreasing liver disease markers caused by alcohol consumption
WASHINGTON, D.C. — November 4, 2022 – Ria Health, a leading telehealth provider specializing in Alcohol Use Disorder treatment (AUD), today announced it has received a $2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for a clinical trial assessing its medically assisted treatment program’s effectiveness—The Ria Health Program—in decreasing problem drinking and resulting markers related to liver disease. News of the trial, conducted in partnership with Stanford University, was announced at The Liver Meeting, the leading national conference for hepatology, hosted by the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases.
The first phase of the study will be funded immediately with $367,000 to identify and screen trial candidates, which are subject to milestone and regulatory approvals. Upon successful completion of phase one, the additional $1.63 million will fund commencement of phase two, when subject enrollment begins.
“At Stanford, we are pleased to collaborate on this grant from NIH,” said Judith Prochaska, PhD, MPH, Professor of Medicine with the Stanford Prevention Research Center. “It will support a randomized controlled trial evaluation of Ria Health’s telehealth intervention to increase screening and treatment for alcohol use disorder.”
Over the last decade, U.S. life expectancy has consistently dropped, and alcohol use has been a top contributor. In 2020 in the U.S. alone, 28.3 million people suffered from AUD. For people over the age of 26, prevalence of AUD doubled from 10,618,000 in 2017 to 22,400,000 in 2020.
According to the NIH, the burden of alcohol-related liver disease (ALD) and alcohol use disorder (AUD) was growing before the COVID-19 pandemic began, and the pandemic exacerbated these conditions in patients with ALD and AUD, resulting in an increase in mortality rates. In 2020, the annual average percentage changes in mortality rates from ALD in women ages 25-34 was 6.07% compared to 1.81% for women ages 65-74.
Meanwhile, treatment rates for AUD have been declining, and in 2020 only 7 percent of people with AUD received treatment. Further, less than 1 percent of these people received medication-assisted treatment (or MAT), even with decades of peer-reviewed evidence of its effectiveness.
“This grant is a step towards preventative evidence based interventions that can help reduce the alarming increased rates of cirrhosis that are disproportionately affecting people under the age of 45 and women who are misusing alcohol,” said Tom Nix, CEO of Ria Health. “Early detection of liver abnormalities and treatments for alcohol misuse are proven to reduce acute liver disease— which requires life altering treatments and causes high mortality rates.”
The Ria Health Program focuses on reducing alcohol consumption by combining medical treatment with structured counseling and cutting-edge technology. The program offers several FDA-approved medications for AUD that, when combined with coaching, have been proven highly effective at reducing cravings and instances of harmful drinking. Program participants are also provided bluetooth devices to track and monitor their blood alcohol levels. Perhaps most significantly, the program does not rely on total abstinence from alcohol for patients to see success; the focus remains on reducing episodes of harmful drinking via medication-assisted treatment to greatly improve overall liver function, blood pressure, and destructive behavior.
Healthcare providers, in turn, have been stepping up their efforts to find effective means of educating physicians and treating patients. Alcohol use is estimated to cost the U.S. healthcare system $28 billion annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Identifying markers related to liver disease can prevent deaths when caught and treated early.
Since the beginning of 2020, Ria Health has seen a 500 percent increase in patient enrollment and a tenfold increase in alcohol treatment-seeking adults. Due to the behavioral health impacts of COVID-19, studies found that national alcohol sales have skyrocketed since 2020.
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About Ria Health
Over their lifetime, 1 in 10 adults will struggle with alcohol use disorder, the third-leading cause of preventable death in the United States. At Ria Health, we envision a world with accessible, effective, and compassionate treatment for people who suffer from alcohol misuse. Ria Health is the first evidence-based telehealth treatment program for people who want to drink less and live better by changing their relationship with alcohol. We combine medical science, technology, and human compassion to help people rapidly improve their lives with a simple, online alcohol treatment program that works. For more information, visit riahealth.com.
“Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Institute On Alcohol Abuse And Alcoholism of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R44AA030702. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.”