The director of the nation’s top medical research agency said developing alternative ways to address pain is critical as the nation battles an opioid epidemic.

“NIH, of course, is in the business of generating the evidence, and there’s a lot we still need to know,” Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, said Thursday.

His comments came at a Senate Health Committee hearing on the federal response to the opioid crisis, which has hit both urban and rural communities.

The panel’s ranking member, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), asked the witnesses to discuss how their agencies were using evidence-based practices for prevention and treatment — and the importance of the federal government promoting these policies.

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