Settlement money being used to purchase heroin overdose reversal kits for hospitals

Governor Steve Beshear and Attorney General Jack Conway announced Tuesday they will put more than $100,000 toward providing state hospitals with a drug to counter the effects of a heroin overdose.

The Substance Abuse Treatment Advisory Committee, created by Beshear through executive order to distribute money from a $32 million dollar settlement with two pharmaceutical companies, will spend $105,000 to purchase approximately 2,000 Naloxone Rescue kits for the hospitals with the highest rates of overdose deaths in the state.

Naloxone, a drug with the ability to reverse the effects of a heroin overdose, has been widely discussed during discussions on how to address the state’s heroin issues but is currently only available through prescription and many say the availability of the drug needs to be expanded.

Beshear and Conway said the money for the kits is a good first step.

“Overdose patients will receive a kit free of charge when they leave the hospital, so that they or a loved one can prevent another overdose event and possibly save a life,” Beshear said. “I join with Kentucky families, with our attorney general, with our first lady, with both law enforcement and healthcare and treatment officials around this state in urging our General Assembly to make this one of their very top priorities, we cannot delay any longer.”

The kits will be provided to the University of Louisville Hospital, the University of Kentucky Hospital in Lexington, and the St. Elizabeth Hospital system in Northern Kentucky free of charge to give to the patients. And the officials said they would like to see the pilot project expand to 17 more hospitals in the state.

“Now this is important because when a patient who comes into the ER walks out after a Heroin overdose, if they get this kit they are not going to be walking out with a prescription that they can’t afford to fill because Medicaid doesn’t cover it,” Conway said. “They are not just walking out with a piece of paper.”

Conway also added that most pharmacies in the state and even many emergency rooms do not carry Naloxone, also known as Narcan.

Addressing the heroin issue is an issue with bipartisan appeal in the 2015 session as many bills have already been filed on the topic.

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