Kentucky Launches Opioid Disposal Program to Fight State Drug Epidemic
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.
AG Beshear has 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 allows Kentuckians to dispose of their unused prescription opioids in a completely safe and environmentally friendly manner.
Prescription drug abuse is how an overwhelming 80 percent of heroin users begin their addiction, Beshear said, adding that the misuse of prescription drugs often starts when a person has access to an unused supply from a friend or relative’s medicine cabinet.
The program will begin with a pilot project that will provide 50,000 drug deactivation pouches in four Kentucky counties – Floyd, Henderson, McCracken and Perry – and will be included in Beshear’s statewide work with Kentucky’s seniors and faith-based communities.
Beshear said the program has the potential to dispose of more than 2.2 million unused opioids.
“For the first time, through this program, Kentuckians will be able to safely dispose of unused medications at home and protect their family, friends and neighbors from addiction,” AG Beshear said.
AG Beshear is working with the sheriffs in the four counties to distribute the pouches to local residents and organizations who are disposing of prescription opioids.
On the funding side, AG Beshear’s office is partially funding the initiative with settlement funds, and partnering with the nonprofit A Stronger Kentucky Inc., chaired by former Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, for the remaining funding.
“By utilizing funds from A Stronger Kentucky Inc, we are committing critical resources to this initiative to help reduce the devastating toll of addiction on families and communities,” said former Gov. Beshear. “Kentucky’s epidemic is one of the most damaging public health and safety issues we face, made even more stubborn by the rapidly changing nature of abuse.”
“We have to be as creative as possible in trying to find different ways and avenues to combat the prescription drug problem we are experiencing in Kentucky,” said McCracken County Sheriff Jon Hayden. “This is certainly a creative idea in that this could cut off a source for some people in obtaining some highly-addictive controlled substances. Our county certainly appreciates any efforts made to or presented to us in combating this problem that has in fact reached epidemic levels in parts of our state.”
“Floyd County and Eastern Kentucky are facing a drug epidemic that is crushing our families and communities,” said Floyd County Sheriff John Hunt and Floyd County Judge-Executive Ben Hale. “Partnerships and efforts like this disposal program is one of many steps we must take to battle this epidemic on a day-to-day basis if we hope to help our citizens and state.”
“The dangerous issue of our drug epidemic must be addressed in a team effort approach,” said Henderson County Sheriff Ed Brady. “Each citizen, government official, school district and health partner in each community must work in unison to reduce this threat. Our sheriff’s office will stand together with our community to do all we can to make our communities safer and provide the best possible future for our families. I salute our attorney general for leading the charge and providing this unique opportunity to dispose of medications found in every home.”
“Perry County and rural Kentucky are experiencing a battle with addiction that is directly impacting our people and our economic growth,” said Perry County Judge-Executive Scott Alexander. “It’s imperative we work in partnership to develop community-based solutions like the Kentucky Opioid Disposal Program in order to overcome this epidemic and thrive as a region.”
AG Beshear said his Office of Senior Protection will help distribute the pouches at its senior events at local community centers and churches.
Kentuckians will be able to place their unused medication into the pouch, fill it with warm water, wait 30 seconds, seal the pouch, and shake the pouch before disposing of it in normal trash. One pouch destroys 45 pills, six ounces of liquid or six patches.
AG Beshear said it is his hope that future funding from partner groups or by lawmakers will allow this program to continue and expand.
The announcement is part of AG Beshear’s core mission to find workable solutions to combat addiction in Kentucky.
On June 28, AG 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.
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.
(provided by Kentucky Office of the Attorney General)