A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Pew Trusts: As doctors cut back on opioid prescriptions, abuse of Gabapentin rises

By Christine Vestal Pew Trusts Doctors who are cutting back on prescribing opioids increasingly are opting for gabapentin, a safer, non-narcotic drug recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. By doing so, they may be putting their opioid-using patients at even greater risk. Recently, gabapentin has started showing up in a substantial number of overdose deaths in hard-hit Appalachian...

Analysis shows doctors make more from drug companies as they prescribe more opioids

“As tens of thousands of Americans die from prescription opioid overdoses each year, an exclusive analysis by CNN and researchers at Harvard University found that opioid manufacturers are paying physicians huge sums of money — and the more opioids a doctor prescribes, the more money he or she makes,” Aaron Kessler, Elizabeth Cohen and Katherine Grise report for CNN. In 2014 and 2015...

Mitch McConnell: Bipartisan budget a step forward in combating opioid crisis, but more must be done

On an average day, 175 Americans die from drug overdoses. Families in Kentucky and throughout the nation are bravely confronting substance abuse – including heroin, prescription drugs, and an alarming resurgence of methamphetamine – and law enforcement is working hard to help. With our communities in crisis, I remain committed to finding comprehensive solutions to end this suffering through coordinated...

Beshear files lawsuit against third opioid distributor for funneling prescription painkillers into state

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear has filed a third lawsuit against one of the nation’s largest opioid distributors he says has funneled massive amounts of prescription painkillers into the state and especially rural eastern Kentucky. The lawsuit, filed in Jefferson County Circuit Court, alleges Ohio-based Cardinal Health has helped fuel Kentucky’s opioid epidemic,...

Governor Bevin requests cooperation of attorney general in legal efforts against opioid companies

Governor Matt Bevin on Monday called upon Attorney General Andy Beshear to join forces in the fight against the opioid epidemic by pursuing joint legal action against opioid drug manufacturers and distributors. Gov. Bevin’s General Counsel Steve Pitt underscored the need for cooperation in a letter sent to Deputy Attorney General J. Michael Brown, calling upon all parties “to stand united so that...

Keys to fighting opioids in Appalachia: reducing stigma, furthering education and publishing success

The stigma of opioid addiction in Appalachia “not only keeps some from seeking help, but follows those who did — putting them at risk for relapse,” the Knoxville News Sentinel’s Kristi L. Nelson reports, on a six-month study that interviewed residents and held discussions with them. “We interviewed people who had been in recovery for 20 years, and they said they were still viewed...

Pew Trusts: Seven 2017 statistics that informed, inspired us to tackle today’s toughest challenges

Pew Charitable Trusts takes on some of today’s toughest issues, by applying a rigorous, analytical approach to improve public police, inform the public and invigorate civic life. Here are the stats that drove Pew’s work in 2017: 1. Opioids claim 91 American lives daily That sobering stat stems in part from two others: • More than 20 million Americans have a substance use disorder (so...

Beshear denies involvement in state opioid settlement after being grilled by legislative panel

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear was grilled last week by lawmakers over a $24 million settlement against a pharmaceutical company even though he told them he had no involvement. Former Demoractic Attorney General Jack Conway settled a lawsuit against OxyContin manufacturer Purdue Pharma in December 2015 just a few weeks before Beshear replaced Conway as attorney...

Dorsey Ridley: Opioid crisis affecting every aspect of life in Kentucky… and more needs to be done

When the clock strikes midnight tonight, four more Kentuckians will have died of a drug overdose.   That’s how the veteran law enforcement official tasked with coordinating the state’s response to the heroin epidemic describes the seriousness of the situation. While the headlines about the crisis have focused on Northern Kentucky, Appalachia and the big cities, don’t be fooled into thinking...

Dreamland author says opioid epidemic leads to discussion of addiction, first step to finding solutions

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News Since Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic was published in 2015, the author says the nation has seen both positive and negative changes in the epidemic that is sweeping Kentucky and other states. “The negative changes are pretty dramatic,” Sam Quinones said in a telephone interview with Kentucky Health News. “The number...

Beshear hires four law firms to investigate opioid manufacturers; Bevin says action is premature

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear has hired four law firms to investigate and sue companies who have contributed to the opioid epidemic in Kentucky. However, Republican Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration says the Kentucky attorney general’s announcement of a state contract to investigate opioid manufacturers is premature. The Finance and Administration Cabinet...

SOAR hosting substance-abuse disorder educational and policy event at Pikeville on Oct. 3

Shaping Our Appalachian Region’s Healthy Communities program and the University of Pikeville will host a substance-use disorder education event Tuesday, Oct. 3 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the university’s Kentucky College of Optometry (Health Professionals Education Building). The meeting is for “health professionals and stakeholders who share the vision of reducing the scope and impact...

Pair of legislative panels hear sobering accounts of impact of opioid crisis in Kentucky

At one Kentucky hospital, people are actually bringing in heroin and shooting up with patients. That’s one example of the “very desperate situation” the opioid-abuse crisis has created, Kentucky Chamber of Commerce President Dave Adkisson said while testifying before a panel of state legislators Wednesday in the Capitol Annex. He was among more than 25 people from across the country who testified...

Kentucky joins national movement seeking solution for opioid crisis through insurance companies

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today The Attorneys General of Kentucky and West Virginia joined together on Monday to call on health insurance companies to help find workable solutions for the opioid crisis. Democrat Andy Beshear and Republican Patrick Morrisey appeared at Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia, to announce that they and 36 other state attorneys general want the insurers to promote...

Treating Pain: Discuss risks, alternatives to taking opioids for relief with your doctor

By Dr. Kristy Deep Special to KyForward Treating pain is important and for many people, the reliance on opioids or narcotics may not be the best answer. The amount of opioids prescribed in the U.S. has quadrupled since 1999, but the overall amount of pain reported hasn’t changed. There are also risks from opioid pain medicines — including side effects and the risk of overdose. And according to...

Author of opioid epidemic book Dreamland says it began with easy answers to tough questions

By Al Cross Kentucky Health News The opioid epidemic began with a desire for “easy answers to complicated problems,” and the solution to it needs to avoid similar mistakes, the author of the seminal book on the topic said recently on KET’s “Connections with Renee Shaw.” “As a culture we need to learn patience. It took us a long time to get into this and it will take...

Eli Capilouto: Research one of the major factors helping to drive Kentucky’s economy

At the University of Kentucky, we strive to be at the intersection of innovation and impact. We are called, as a $3.7 billion academic, research and health enterprise, to answer still lingering questions while daring to pioneer the questions yet asked. This discovery helps drive Kentucky’s economy. Our rare mix of top ranked programs in agriculture, engineering, medicine, and pharmacy positions UK...

Bevin, Aetna announce partnership to provide first responders in Eastern Kentucky with Narcan

First responders in eastern Kentucky will receive a fresh supply of Narcan to help prevent deaths from drug overdoses. Gov. Matt Bevin joined with executives from Aetna and local officials in Hazard to announce a partnership that will provide 360 doses of the medication, a crucial drug for saving lives. Drug overdose deaths in Kentucky have skyrocketed in recent years, and sometimes simply by coming...

Kentucky doctors, lawmakers, insurance companies battle opioid epidemic by limiting prescriptons

To fight the opioid epidemic, Kentucky doctors, legislators and health-insurance companies are working to limit the prescription of painkillers. At the annual convention of the Kentucky Medical Association, a University of Kentucky trauma surgeon told other physicians how he and his colleagues got a wake-up call about the problem and “how they were able to halve the amount of opiates given to...

New program will allow Kentuckians to safely dispose of unused prescription opioids at home

Attorney General Andy Beshear is taking an innovative step in the fight against what he believes is the single greatest threat to Kentucky – the state’s drug epidemic. On Tuesday, Beshear launched the Kentucky Opioid Disposal Program, the state’s first initiative to allow Kentuckians to safely dispose of opioid medications at home. The program involves the drug deactivation pouch, Deterra, which...