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Faculty & Staff Honors

Faculty & Staff Honors

Kentucky Center Awarded Grant for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Program

The Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center (KIPRC), a bona fide agent for the Kentucky Department for Public Health, and housed within the University of Kentucky College of Public Health, has been awarded a $400,000 grant from the Bureau of Justice Assistance to develop data-driven multidisciplinary approaches to reduce prescription drug abuse and overdoses in Kentucky.

Dr. Svetla Slavova, the project’s principal investigator and an assistant professor of biostatistics in the University of Kentucky College of Public Health, emphasized that this award is a collaborative effort between criminal justice and public health agencies to enhance the state’s analytical capacity to identify existing and emerging prescription drug abuse trends, prescription drug overdose – at risk individuals and communities, address sources of diversion, and determine best practices for sharing prescription drug overdose-related data.

Kentucky had the second highest drug overdose death rate in the U.S. in 2012, with 25 deaths per 100,000 individuals, according to data from the National Center for Health Statistics. Despite the rise of heroin contribution, prescription opioid pain relievers, such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, methadone, or fentanyl, are still the leading cause for drug overdose deaths in the state.

“This grant will give us an opportunity for the first time to review multiple data sources related to overdose deaths,” said Mr. Van Ingram, executive director for the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy. “We believe the information we will have as a result of this grant will help shape policy and ultimately assist in reducing accidental overdose deaths.”

The program will have far-reaching effects in agencies across the state.  “I am excited to have the opportunity to participate in this important program,” shared Dr. Tracey Corey, chief medical examiner for the State of Kentucky. “The Kentucky Medical Examiner’s Office deals with the tragic aftermath of drug-related deaths on a daily basis. Participation in this program will allow us to help the living, and prevent deaths in the future.”

The Office of Inspector General in the Cabinet for Health and Family Services is a primary partner on the project. The grant award involves development of targeted search algorithms and analytical capabilities to enhance proactive use of Kentucky All Scheduled Prescription Electronic Reporting System (KASPER) data to identify possibly harmful prescribing practices and to inform prescriber’s continuing education and policy development.

With support from this grant, Kentucky will establish an action team to examine data and analytic reports from various sources (including KASPER, medical examiners, coroners, hospitals, and emergency departments) to identify areas at greatest risk for prescription drug abuse.  The action team will also propose risk mitigation activities, including education, outreach, treatment, and enforcement. Action team representation will include the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure, Kentucky Board of Pharmacy, Kentucky Board of Nursing, Kentucky Pharmacists Association, Kentucky Department for Public Health, Office of Inspector General, Kentucky Agency for Substance Abuse Policy (KY-ASAP), Office of Drug Control Policy, Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Operation UNITE, the Institute for Pharmaceutical Outcomes and Policy, and the Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center. An invitation for participation in the action team is also extended to other agencies and organizations committed to the mission to reduce drug abuse and misuse in the Commonwealth.

“Kentucky is a national leader in prescription drug overdose prevention through its seminal prescription drug monitoring program, KASPER, and through its community grassroots efforts such as Operation UNITE,” stated Dr. Terry Bunn, KIPRC director, and project co-investigator. “Approaches that involve careful data analysis with participation of law enforcement, health care providers, and local community partners are critical for targeted prescription drug overdose prevention interventions and developing effective policies.”