Continuing his work to address the state’s opioid epidemic, Attorney General Andy Beshear was in Paducah today at Lourdes Hospital to announce new partners joining his office’s Kentucky Opioid Disposal Program.
Representatives from seven community organizations joined Beshear in forming a coalition that will distribute drug deactivation pouches to help McCracken Countians dispose of their unused prescription opioids in a safe and eco-friendly manner.
“I applaud those working with my office to keep unused opioids out of the hands of those who could misuse them,” Beshear said. “Nearly 80 percent of heroin users begin their addiction with prescription drugs, and with the help of these partners more of our neighbors, friends and families in McCracken County will have a better chance of escaping the plight of addiction.”
In August, Beshear launched the Kentucky Opioid Disposal Program, the state’s first initiative to allow Kentuckians to safely dispose of opioid medications at home.
The McCracken County pilot program initially began with Beshear working with McCracken County Sheriff Jon Hayden.
Beshear said that the six additional community partners have been selected based on their ability and willingness to reach those in the community who are most in need of disposing of unwanted opioids. The McCracken County program is expected to provide 10,000 drug deactivation pouches that can deactivate more than 450,000 prescription pills in the county.
The new partner organizations include: Davis Drugs; Lone Oak Pharmacy; Lourdes Hospital and Hospice and Palliative Care; McCracken County ASAP Board; McCracken County Schools and Paducah Independent Schools.
“The Deterra pouches will be very convenient for citizens to use in their homes and proactively assist in preventing friends and family from becoming addicted to unused prescription opioids,” said Captain Matt Carter with the McCracken County Sheriff’s Office. “This program will provide an additional outlet to partner with the community to combat this growing problem in a safe, free and environmentally-friendly fashion”
Brian Harper, superintendent of McCracken County Schools, said our goal is to protect the next generation from falling victim to this public health crisis.
“We are pleased to partner with General Beshear and the McCracken County Sheriff’s Department to educate our students about the importance of disposing unused prescription opioids,” said Harper.
Troy Brock, director of pupil personnel at Paducah Independent Schools, said that opioid abuse and addiction is of paramount importance across the Commonwealth and in our communities and requires immediate attention.
“We are confident that this partnership and effort between the AG’s office and Paducah City Schools will potentially save the lives of our youth,” Brock said. “This program provides an easy and efficient means to help our families eliminate the risk of the permanent damage that opioid misuse and abuse can cause, and we are proud to be a part of these first steps to addressing the problem across the Commonwealth.”
Michelle Lowe, owner, Lone Oak Pharmacy, said her business is happy to partner with the attorney general’s office and the sheriff’s department to assist patients with the disposal program.
“This is a problem that we see occur on a regular basis and these pouches will be readily disturbed to patients at our pharmacy,” Lowe said. “We will make every effort to inform our customers as well as the general public about this program. Many thanks to those who made this free program available to help dispose of unused medicines.”
Marshall Davis, owner of Davis Drugs and pharmacist, said, “I think this is a very beneficial program and will be a great resource to prevent misuse of medication.”
Kay Williams, director of Lourdes Hospice and HomeCare, said she is happy Lourdes is a partner in combating the opioid epidemic in her community.
“Hospices across the Commonwealth have been on the leading edge with innovative policies and solutions that keep opioids in the hands of patients who must have them to achieve a modicum of comfort, while rendering the medications unusable for others,” Williams said. “By joining forces, we keep unused medications unavailable for illegal use, to the extent allowed by law and DEA regulations.”
The Kentucky Opioid Disposal Program pilot program also includes three other Kentucky counties Floyd, Henderson and Perry, as well as, Beshear’s Office of Senior Protection that is working with the faith-based community to distribute the pouches at senior events.
In total, the program has the potential to dispose of more than 2.2 million unused opioids by simply placing unused medication into the pouch, filling it with warm water, waiting 30 seconds then seal, shake and dispose of it in normal trash.
Since announcing the program, Beshear said he hopes that the initial pilot program leads to future funding from new partner groups or lawmakers that allow the program to expand to more counties.
Today’s announcement comes ahead of this weekend’s National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, which is Saturday, Oct. 28, and is part of Beshear’s core mission to find workable solutions to combat addiction in Kentucky.
In June, Beshear announced his plans to file multiple lawsuits against drug manufacturers, distributors and retailers where there is evidence contributing to the opioid epidemic through illegal marketing and selling of opioids to Kentuckians.
To support this litigation, AG Beshear issued a request for proposal (RFP) for legal services to assist the Commonwealth in multiple lawsuits, and to ensure Kentucky tax dollars are not used for the costs of the litigations. A contract was awarded in October to a legal team to help with the upcoming litigation.
AG Beshear is co-chair on the National Association of Attorneys General Substance Abuse Committee.
The AG’s office previously settled a $24 million lawsuit with Purdue Pharma regarding OxyContin. AG Beshear’s office has provided $8 million from that settlement directly to 15 substance treatment centers across Kentucky.
From a different drug company settlement, the office dedicated $2 million to expand and enhance Rocket Docket programs that expedite drug cases, generate significant cost savings and allow select defendants rapid access to substance abuse treatment.
Recently, AG Beshear joined a multistate lawsuit alleging the drugmaker of Suboxone, a drug used for treating opioid addiction, attempted to monopolize the market.
AG Beshear is currently working with local law enforcement and community leaders to host substance abuse awareness forums across the state. The office has also been instrumental in numerous drug related arrests, including working with federal authorities to arrest a fentanyl dealer whose drugs had killed several Kentuckians.