A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Kentucky Poison Control Center launches new 24/7 hotline to help combat state’s opioid crisis

Kentucky has a new resource to battle the Commonwealth’s opioid epidemic. The Kentucky Poison Control Center of Norton Children’s Hospital has launched a 24/7 support hotline for health care providers, patients and first responders on opioid-related issues. The Kentucky Opioid Assistance & Resource (OAR) Hotline — (800) 854-6813 — is staffed by toxicology-certified nurses and pharmacists...

Louisville health department offers test strips to safeguard drug users against fentanyl exposure

As a way to protect drug users from deadly fentanyl, Louisville’s health department has started passing out test strips, Beth Warren reports for the Louisville Courier Journal. Fentanyl was initially added to heroin, but has increasingly been hidden in many other drugs, including methamphetamine and pills that are made to look like legal ones, Warren reports. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that...

Beshear wins fight to keep four opioid lawsuits in Kentucky courts; updates available online

In an effort to halt the drug epidemic in Kentucky, Attorney General Andy Beshear is suing seven opioid manufacturers and distributors that have fueled and profited from the state’s opioid crisis – and now he is asking Kentuckians to follow each case by visiting ag.ky.gov. Andy Beshear Beshear’s office announced its ongoing commitment to transparency with the website at a South Louisville Opioid...

Grant provides Kentucky State Police with fentanyl response kits to protect against contact the drug

Kentucky State Police troopers and officers have received another tool to combat the opioid crisis – fentanyl response kits that help them avoid contact with dangerous drugs. The kits were purchased with $25,000 in grant funds from Passport Health Plan. They include Tyvek suits, respirator masks, fentanyl protective gloves, safety glasses, and a portable gear bag. The Kentucky State Police Foundation...

Beshear, AGs file court action to block ACA lawsuit; claims Kentucky would lose $49.7 billion in funding

A group of state attorneys general is joining together to protect the nation’s health care system by seeking to intervene in and combat a lawsuit aimed at dismantling the Affordable Care Act, Attorney General Andy Beshear has announced. The lawsuit claims that the ACA is unconstitutional because the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act eliminated the ACA penalty for failing to purchase health insurance – known...

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...

National opioid epidemic fueling unprecedented levels of overdose deaths, state report shows

The nationwide opioid epidemic continued taking its lethal toll on the Commonwealth last year, driving up overdose deaths to unprecedented levels with an ever-stronger mix of fentanyl, heroin and prescription pills. According to a report released Tuesday by the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy, fatal overdoses totaled 1,404 in 2016, a 7.4 percent increase from the previous year. Of those cases,...

Fentanyl crackdown bill clears House committee; Senate passes smoke free schools measure

FRANKFORT—A bill that would make it a felony to illegally sell or distribute any amount of fentanyl, carfentanil and related drugs tied to an increase in drug overdoses in Kentucky has passed the House Judiciary Committee. Trafficking in any amount of fentanyl, a pain killer now frequently imported for illegal street sales, and drugs derived from fentanyl as well as carfentanil—a large animal anesthetic...

The Rural Blog: Opioid epidemic persists because drug does too good a job of eliminating pain

One of the biggest barriers to beating the nation’s opioid epidemic, which is disproportionately rural, could be that the painkillers do as intended: make the pain go away, says a report by The Washington Post and Kaiser Family Foundation. Also, users see opioids as far less addictive and dangerous than do their household members who are not using painkillers. “The Centers for Disease...

Drug overdose deaths now higher in rural areas than large metros; rise in opiate use to blame

Death rates from drug overdoses in rural areas have surpassed those in large metropolitan areas, reversing a historical trend, Jeanne Whalen reports for The Wall Street Journal. The main reason: the soaring rural opioid epidemic, led by an increased use of fentanyl, a cheap and easy-to-produce and easily available drug that is often mixed with heroin. Whalen writes, “Nationwide, 13,882 drug...

Beshear, lawmakers announce plans to strengthen state laws addressing fentanyl, carfentanil crisis

Attorney General Andy Beshear, House lawmakers and local law enforcement officials announced plans Friday to strengthen Kentucky’s laws to fight emerging, more powerful drugs that have caused numerous overdoses, even deaths across the state. The pre-filed legislation, by sponsors Rep. Russ Meyer, of Nicholasville, and Rep. Dennis Keene, of Wilder, would amend the state’s drug laws to create penalties...

Powerful narcotics threaten even more fatal drug overdoses; six in Danville area spur action

“If you’re putting a needle in your arm, you’re playing Russian roulette,” because so many super-powerful narcotics such as fentanyl are in the illegal drug trade, Dr. Eric Guerrant, emergency department medical director at Ephraim McDowell Regional Medical Center in Danville, told Laura Ungar of The Courier-Journal for a story on the threat and his community’s reaction to it. The elephant...

Public Health Department issues warning about new supply of fentanyl-laced heroin entering state

Kentucky’s top health officials are warning state medical providers and community leaders of a pending public health crisis involving dangerous drugs. Kentucky Department for Public Health Commissioner Dr. Hiram Polk said officials wanted to issue the warning before the holiday weekend, when they expect a rise in recreational drug use. “Recent law enforcement reports cite a new supply of heroin...

Rash of heroin overdoses in region have state officials concerned drugs came from same batch

A rash of heroin overdoses reported in the last two weeks in Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio and West Virginia, has officials concerned the drugs came from the same batch, “likely mixed with either fentanyl or carfentanil,” Harrison Jacobs reports for Business Insider. Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, “is 80 to 100 times as powerful as morphine and about 40 to 50 times as potent as pure heroin.” Carfentanil,...

Mike Denham: Fentanyl the latest battlefield added to Kentucky’s ongoing war on drugs

FRANKFORT – It has often been said that the war against illegal drugs is an ever-changing battlefield. When we seem to be making headway on one front, another tragically opens up. Over the past dozen years, those “fronts” in Kentucky have ranged from meth and synthetic drugs to prescription pain medicine and heroin. According to the annual report the state’s Office of Drug Control Policy released...

Fentanyl-related deaths on the rise; experts say many addicts aren’t aware they’re consuming the drug

A report Tuesday from the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy underscores the dangers of fentanyl, an extremely potent opioid that is leading to more overdose deaths, often because dealers mix it with heroin and sell the lethal blend to unwitting addicts. Fentanyl-related deaths have been on the rise across the country over the past year, and experts say many addicts are not aware they are consuming...