A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

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...

Number of painkiller prescriptions decline statewide, but remain high in many individual counties

Kentucky Health News reported in July about a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report showing ranges of painkillers sold per person in each county in 2015 and whether there had been an increase or decrease since 2010. Individual county data was unavailable at the time of the July report, but has since been made available. The CDC report calculated the rate of “morphine equivalent doses”...

Louisville files federal lawsuit against three major opioid companies for damages

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today Mayor Greg Fischer announced on Monday that Louisville has filed a federal lawsuit against three major wholesale drug distributors. “We have lost a generation of people to opiates,” Fischer said. “We’ve seen a spike in violent crime tied directly to the sale and misuse of opioids. And we are spending millions of dollars on health, public safety and justice expenses,...

Survivors of drug abuse herald new Kentucky laws aimed at opioid crisis at Capitol ceremony

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today Two examples of lives nearly wrecked by opioid abuse underscored the importance of three new laws aimed at the drug-abuse crisis in Kentucky. 
 Amy Compston of Ashland and Alex Elswick of Lexington shared their stories in a ceremony at the Capitol Tuesday.   One of the laws limits the prescribing of opioids to a three-day supply, with some exceptions, and increases penalties...

Kentucky’s opioid crisis focus of Sept. 25 meeting of Howard Bost Health Policy Forum

Author and journalist Sam Quinones, whose book Dreamland chronicles the rise of prescription opioid abuse and subsequent heroin addiction across suburban and rural America, will keynote the Howard L. Bost Health Policy Forum on Sept 25 in Lexington. The title of the 15th annual forum, underwritten by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky with support from Gilead Sciences, Inc., is “Kentucky’s...

Knowing naloxone administration skills can give someone another chance at life following overdose

By Dr. Raeford Brown Special to KyForward It’s a terrifying scenario that’s become all-too-real in the age of the opioid epidemic: a person lying lifeless, not breathing, because of an opioid overdose. According to the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy, the rates of opioid overdose deaths continue to rise in Kentucky. More than 1,400 people in the state died of a drug overdose in 2016, and...

Bevin announces new public awareness campaign, website aimed at fight against opioid addiction

Gov. Matt Bevin is urging all Kentuckians to help beat back the opioid epidemic with a new public awareness campaign that highlights the dangers of opioid abuse and offers information on drug treatment and naloxone. The campaign, launching this week, combines web content with statewide advertising to drive home a simple message: “Don’t Let Them Die.” The theme encourages Kentuckians to recognize...

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,...

Beshear joins multistate coalition investigating role of drugmakers in ongoing opioid crisis

Attorney General Andy Beshear announced he is working with attorneys general from across the country to investigate whether drug manufacturers contributed to the opioid epidemic by illegally marketing and selling opioids. Beshear said the bipartisan coalition is working to address the national opioid crisis and is using its investigative tools, including subpoenas for documents and testimony. Nationwide...

Jeff Rubin: Current drug epidemic may be even worst than people think and elderly not immune

Not a day goes by that you can’t pick up a newspaper or listen to the news and not be reminded of the drug epidemic in Kentucky and the surrounding region. Here, as in many communities across the Commonwealth and our nation, an increasing number of young people, and not so young people, have fallen victim to some sort of substance abuse or addiction. The result of which, accidental or otherwise,...

Heroin use continues to increase in Kentucky; all regions affected by opioid abuse, KHIP report shows

Heroin use has increased in Kentucky and opioid abuse remains high, according to the latest Kentucky Health Issues Poll (KHIP) report, released Tuesday. Twenty-seven percent of Kentucky adults say they know someone who has abused prescription pain medication; 17 percent know someone who is using heroin, up from 9 percent in 2013. Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) indicate that...

Rural Blog: Focus moves to therapy, exercise after 270 percent surge in painkiller prescriptions to vets

Use of prescription painkillers among veterans increased 270 percent from 2001 to 2012, Jessica Lilly and Roxy Todd report for West Virginia Public Broadcasting as part of a series on opioids in Appalachia. About 24 percent of all veterans live in rural areas. In West Virginia, which leads the nation in opioid use, VA clinics were known for prescribing painkillers for chronic pain, reports WVPB. For...

Rural Blog: Study shows fatal accidents are now more likely to involve use of drugs than alcohol

Fatal accidents, for the first time, are more likely to involve drugs than alcohol, says a study by the Governors Highway Safety Association and the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility. In 2015, the last year for which figures are available, 43 percent of drivers tested in fatal crashes had drugs present in their system, compared to 37 percent with alcohol, Ashley Halsey III reports for...

Our Lady of Peace opens first retail pharmacist-operated injection clinic to treat opioid abuse

Kentucky is again leading the nation in finding ways to combat the opioid epidemic, as Louisville’s Our Lady of Peace has become the nation’s first behavioral health care center to open a retail pharmacist-operated, long-acting injection clinic, Joe Sonka reports for Insider Louisville. Pharmacists at the clinic will provide monthly shots of long-acting medications to help patients with...

Several opioid epidemic-related measures approved by General Assembly; more could be in the works

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News The 2017 General Assembly has passed several bills meant to put more “tools in the toolbox” as the state works to combat its growing opioid epidemic. And several more are in the pipeline to pass when lawmakers come back March 29 and 30. Those two days are provided to reconsider any bills Gov. Matt Bevin vetoes, but legislation in the pipeline can...

Keven Moore: It may be hard to believe, but even a simple back injury can eventually result in death

Can a back injury kill you? Unfortunately, it can. Let me tell you a story about my dear friend Dan who died from a simple back injury on Feb. 10, 1996. Dan and I first met working at McDonald’s when we were both teenagers. We later lived together, dated the same women, got in fist-fights over women, deer hunted, rode motorcycles, played pickup basketball at 3 a.m. on the UK blue courts, delivered...