FRANKFORT, Ky. (March 27, 2015) – First Lady Jane Beshear and Attorney General Jack Conway announced Thursday that heroin/opiate overdose reversal kits will be purchased and made available to people treated for overdoses at the University of Kentucky Albert B. Chandler Hospital and the University of Kentucky’s Good Samaritan Hospital. The funding is provided through the Substance Abuse Treatment Advisory Committee (SATAC).
“This project will allow us to get this medicine into the hands and homes of the people who need it most – heroin users and their families,” Attorney General Conway said. “Heroin and opiate abuse is killing Kentuckians, and these kits will save lives and provide a second chance for people to seek treatment for their addictions. I appreciate the legislature doing the right thing and putting people over politics in the waning hours of the 2015 General Assembly to pass meaningful heroin legislation. The legislation includes all of the provisions that I outlined were important to law enforcement. It increases penalties for large-scale traffickers, expands treatment, provides for a Good Samaritan defense, and gets Naloxone kits into the hands of first responders and limits the civil liability of those responders. People who sell heroin should be in jail. People addicted to heroin should be in treatment. This legislation gives prosecutors, police and healthcare professionals the tools we need to help attack the resurgence of heroin.”
The hospitals in Kentucky with the highest rates of heroin overdose deaths are receiving funding for the kits. In 2013, UK HealthCare treated 223 people for heroin overdoses. Overdose patients will receive a kit free of charge when they leave the hospital, so they or a loved one can prevent another overdose event and possibly save a life. The project is expected to up and running by Spring 2015.
“Unfortunately, we see the tragic circumstances and consequences of heroin and opiate abuse on an almost daily basis in our emergency departments,” said Dr. Roger Humphries, chair of Emergency Medicine at UK HealthCare. “To give patients and family members the ability to rapidly administer a safe and potentially life-saving treatment will make a significant difference for some of our patients, and it will save lives.”
Gov. Steve Beshear created SATAC by executive order to oversee the KY Kids Recovery grant program and distribution of $32 million in settlement funds that Attorney General Conway secured from two pharmaceutical companies. The judge required the settlement funds be used to expand treatment in Kentucky. Attorney General Conway chairs the committee and First Lady Jane Beshear serves on the committee.
The committee is providing $105,000 to purchase approximately 2,000 Naloxone Rescue kits for the University of Louisville Hospital, the UK HealthCare hospitals in Lexington, and the St. Elizabeth Hospital system in Northern Kentucky. About 300 of those kits will be purchased for use at the University of Kentucky Medical Center. The kits will be provided free of charge to every treated and discharged overdose victim at the pilot project hospitals.
Naloxone, which is also known as Narcan, has no potential for abuse and immediately reverses the effects of a heroin overdose by physiologically blocking the effects of opiates. Right now, it is not covered by Medicaid or many private insurance companies, which means even if users receive a prescription they are unlikely to fill it because they cannot afford it. Naloxone is available in injectable or nasal mist forms. The nasal mist form must still be approved by the FDA. When approved, health experts believe most insurance companies and Medicaid will begin to cover the costs.
“Narcan kits are critical, lifesaving tools that can help put people on the road to recovery,” said Mrs. Beshear. “As Kentuckians expand access to mental health treatment, including addiction recovery, it’s more important than ever to have community access to tools like Narcan. Often, an overdose experience is what finally drives people suffering from addiction to seek help.”
In 2013, 230 Kentuckians died from heroin overdoses. Final numbers for heroin overdoses in 2014 are not yet available, but the Office of Drug Control Policy estimates heroin was involved in 30 percent of all drug overdose deaths.
History of SATAC
Gov. Steve Beshear created SATAC to administer $32 million in settlement funds that Attorney General Conway secured from two pharmaceutical companies.
The committee created KY Kids Recovery grants to help expand adolescent treatment in Kentucky. The 19 programs it is funding are located in every region of the state. The program encompass all aspects of evidence-based, substance abuse services for adolescents, including prevention, outpatient counseling, intensive outpatient and residential services.
For a complete list of the 19 grant recipients, visit KyKidsRecovery.ky.gov.
In addition to the $19 million in KY Kids Recovery grants, the settlement is providing $500,000 to complete construction of a Recovery Kentucky center in Carter County, $2.5 million for almost 900 scholarships to Recovery Kentucky centers, and $560,000 to create 14 drug-free homes for people completing and transitioning out of residential substance abuse treatment programs.
The following entities are also receiving funds from the settlement:
· $6 million to administer and upgrade KASPER, Kentucky’s electronic prescription drug monitoring program.
· $1 million to support substance abuse treatment for pregnant women by Chrysalis House in Lexington and Independence House in Corbin.
· $1.5 million to the University of Kentucky to develop best practices for adolescent substance abuse treatment providers.
· $1 million to develop a school-based substance abuse screening tool with the Kentucky Department of Education to intervene with at-risk children before they enter judicial or social services systems.
· $250,000 to create a database to evaluate outcomes of adolescent treatment.
For more information about Attorney General Conway’s efforts to fight substance abuse, visit www.ag.ky.gov/rxabuse.