Tag Archives: Kentucky

Ky. anti-heroin bill moves forward

heroinA controversial bill that would boost penalties for drug dealers — particularly when the sale of drugs like heroin results in an overdose death — is gaining traction in Kentucky, where the House Judiciary Committee narrowly approved the measure. The bill needed 12 votes to advance out of committee, and only secured enough support when one lawmaker agreed to change her vote, with eight members passing and no one voting in opposition, according to this article.

The legislation would allow the prosecution of homicide when the sale of heroin or some other Schedule I controlled substance results in an overdose death; classify the controversial new painkiller Zohydro as a Schedule I drug; require the state Medicaid program to cover several inpatient and outpatient treatment options for people addicted to opiates, including heroin and prescription painkillers; and divert state funds to expand treatment programs, according to this article.

Prescription painkillers are the primary cause of overdose deaths in Kentucky, while heroin contributed to 129 Kentucky resident drug overdose deaths in 2012 — a 207 percent increase from the 42 heroin-involved deaths recorded in 2011.

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Ky. sees rise in drug-addicted babies

sick babyIn Kentucky, where prescription drug and heroin addiction are rife, hospitalizations for babies born dependent on drugs because of their mothers’ addictions are continuing to increase even as drug overdose deaths level off. In 2012, there were 824 hospitalizations for infants with neonatal abstinence syndrome, up from 678 in 2011 and 28 in 2000, according to this article, which cites a new report by the Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center. In addition, the report found that even though drug overdose deaths overall have leveled off and adult drug overdose hospitalizations have gone down, heroin-overdose deaths rose 207 percent between 2011 and 2012, the article says.

According to the article:

Along with the rise in infant hospitalizations has come a similar increase in the charges for these hospital stays in Kentucky, which reached $40.2 million in 2012, up from $200,000 in 2000. Researchers found that 694 of the 824 hospitalizations in 2012 were expected to be paid by government-funded Medicaid, for a total of $34.9 million.

Kentucky currently only has one-tenth of the substance abuse treatment beds it needs, according to data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

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Ky. to receive $32M for drug abuse treatment

money and pillsMore than $32 million recovered in settlements with two pharmaceutical companies will be used throughout Kentucky to expand substance abuse treatment, including opiate addictions. The state’s attorney general, Jack Conway, said the settlement funds will help create a new treatment center for adults, treatment scholarships, a grant program for new juvenile treatment beds and/or centers, and expanded services for juveniles.

Kentucky currently only has one-tenth of the substance abuse treatment beds it needs, according to data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Conway’s suit against Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp., which accused the company of failing to disclose to doctors and patients that taking Vioxx significantly raised the risk of heart attack, recently settled for $25 million. His suit against GlaxoSmithKline for failing to disclose that patients taking its diabetes drug, Avandia, were at a higher risk for a cardiovascular event, settled for $15 million.

The illegal use of prescription drugs has dropped among young people in Kentucky over the past four years, according to state officials: in 2008, 15.2% of 12th-graders surveyed said they had used prescription drugs without a doctor’s permission, but that figure dropped to 9% in 2012.

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Ky. cops mull Narcan to curb heroin ODs

overdoseLike many other areas of the nation affected by painkiller abuse, Lexington, Kentucky has been gripped by a wave of heroin-related deaths in recent months. According to this article, the trend has prompted law enforcement officials to consider carrying naloxone, a medication that reverses opiate overdoses. The Lexington Police Department is reviewing a training regimen and protocol that would enable it to place the kits in patrol cars, and is researching whether or not it would be legal for police to administer the drug to a third party, the article says.

Naloxone, otherwise known as Narcan, literally reverses the dangerous effects of taking too much OxyContin or heroin by counteracting the depression of the central nervous system and respiratory system.

Many states have passed so-called “Good Samaritan” laws that offer protection to anyone seeking medical help in the event of a drug or alcohol overdose. Some of these laws extend both to people seeking assistance for themselves and for others.

The widespread painkiller addiction epidemic has fueled the rise of heroin use nationwide, particularly among suburban youth. Between 2007 and 2011, the number of users went from 373,000 to 620,000, according to federal data, and heroin-dependent young adults more than doubled to 109,000 between 2009 and 2011.

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W. Va. heroin deaths tripled in 2012

overdoseHeroin overdose deaths in West Virginia tripled in 2012 compared to just five years ago, and the state saw a 53% increase in heroin overdose-related deaths last year compared to 2011.

According to this article, which cites statistics released by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Health Statistics Center, between 2007 and 2012, the state’s health statistics center in Charleston reported that a total of 240 deaths were caused by heroin overdoses through the state, increasing from a total of 22 in 2007 to 66 in 2012.

Berkeley County has seen a total of 48 deaths, Jefferson County saw a total of 14 deaths and Morgan County was listed as having seven heroin overdose deaths in that same time period, the article says.

In Berkeley County, the statistics center attributed just one death to a fatal heroin overdose in 2007, but by last year, the number had increased to 13, the article says. Jefferson County saw its highest number of heroin overdose deaths in 2008 and 2010, when four deaths were directly attributed to heroin, but the number dropped to just one in 2012, while Morgan County saw just one heroin overdose death recorded in 2011, which increased to three last year, according to the article.

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More residents using Ky. involuntary treatment law

head-in-hands-manAs the prescription drug and heroin epidemic in Kentucky has worsened, residents have been taking advantage of a law that allows parents or other concerned people to petition the court to order involuntary drug treatment for an adult, according to this article. The Matthew Casey Wethington Act for Substance Abuse Intervention, enacted in 2004, is named for Casey Wethington of Kenton County, who died of a heroin overdose in August 2002 at age 23, the article says. More than a dozen states have laws dealing with involuntary commitment for addiction treatment, including Florida and Ohio.

Fewer than 10 Casey’s Law petitions were filed in Boone, Campbell and Kenton counties each year from 2004 through 2008, the article notes, but cases for the three counties jumped to a total of 20 in 2009 and in 2010, then shot up to 66 in 2011 and 71 in 2012 as the opiate epidemic progressed.

Heroin use in Kentucky has exploded in the past decade, fed by sophisticated supply networks focused on mostly white suburban and rural users who have become hooked on prescription painkillers, according to an earlier article by the Cincinnati Enquirer.

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Ky. drug dealers may face homicide charges for ODs

In Kentucky, where prescription drug and heroin addiction are rife, lawmakers plan to go after dealers with legislation that would allow homicide charges against those whose customers die of an overdose, according to this article. Senate Bill 6 would amend state statutes to make it clear that death from an overdose is a foreseeable event and allow prosecution for criminal homicide in such cases, the article says. Legislators are hoping the move will deter out-of-state dealers from coming to Kentucky to sell drugs.

Officials in other states have used similar laws to prosecute dealers. Though it is usually difficult to determine where a person obtained a drug after they die of an overdose, suspects are rarely charged with selling a drug that caused someone’s death. But in places like Massachusetts and Florida, authorities are becoming more willing to pursue such charges.

The number of heroin samples analyzed by the Kentucky State Police crime lab has increased 211% since 2010, according to this article. There were 433 samples analyzed in 2010, but that jumped to 1,349 samples last year, the article says.

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Kentucky, Pennsylvania see rise in heroin abuse

The nationwide spike in heroin abuse in the wake of the painkiller addiction epidemic reared its head in two more areas this week. Law enforcement officials in Kentucky are reporting a dramatic rise in the number of arrests and seizures related to heroin, according to this article. Kentucky State Police submitted 451 suspected heroin samples to its lab in 2010; by 2011, that number had increased to 749, and through September 2012, state police had submitted 1,074 cases to the lab, the article notes. And in Pennsylvania, heroin-related deaths in Allegheny County increased from 62 in 2008 to 95 in 2011, this article says.

Painkiller addicts across the nation are turning to the hardcore street drug when pills become too expensive or scarce, according to a letter published in July in the New England Journal of Medicine. Three researchers examined the effect of the abuse-deterrent formulation on the abuse of OxyContin and other opioids, surveying 2,566 people seeking treatment for abuse of or dependence on opioid drugs. Although 24 percent found a way to defeat the tamper-resistant properties of the abuse-deterrent formulation, 66 percent indicated a switch to another opioid, with heroin the most common response.

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