The Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center (KIPRC), housed in the University of Kentucky College of Public Health, has been awarded a grant totaling close to $4 Million from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to combat prescription drug abuse and heroin use in the state. The Center will receive $940,000 per year for four years to fight opioid use across Kentucky.
The grant will be used to evaluate drug overdose prevention interventions for heroin and prescription drugs, as well as improve prescribing practices for controlled substances. The effort will provide Kentucky with the ability to enhance and implement the KASPER prescription drug monitoring program by improving its interoperability with electronic health record systems. The funds will also be used to target drug interventions in counties across the state showing some of the highest rates of drug overdoses.
U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell, who has illustrated great support of the endeavor, stated, “The opioid epidemic continues to wreak havoc on communities and families throughout the Commonwealth. I am pleased to see [CDC Director] Dr. [Tom] Frieden continue to prioritize federal funding opportunities at the CDC to help identify and prevent prescription drug abuse and heroin use in Kentucky. I look forward to seeing how this competitive grant enhances the efforts of KIPRC in saving lives.”
Dr. Frieden addressed the importance of this work to Kentucky in a statement regarding the award. “Nearly 150,000 Americans have died from prescription drug overdoses in the past decade, and Kentucky has been hit especially hard,” Dr. Frieden said. “Because we can protect many Americans from becoming addicted to opioids, we must take swift action to help states track prescriptions to improve safer prescribing. Kentucky has taken action and has the leadership and commitment to turn the tide on this epidemic.
Kentucky’s Interim Dean of the College of Public Health, Dr. Wayne Sanderson, echoed the value of this grant to the state in the ability it provides to turn the tide on a serious epidemic in the state. “This grant is transformational in its potential to help state and local communities address the serious problems associated with substance abuse that are plaguing our citizens,” Sanderson stated. “For 20 years, KIPRC has targeted improvements on substance abuse treatment and policy. This most recent grant is an excellent example of the impact the Center is making to improve health and safety and addressing one of the Commonwealth’s most serious concerns.”
Dr. Terry Bunn, KIPRC Director and Associate Professor of Preventive Medicine and Environmental Health in the College of Public Health, is the principal investigator for this competitive grant. She explain that through the grant, the state will have the opportunity to enhance integration of its prescription drug monitoring program (KASPER) reports with electronic health records and, thereby, improve physician workflow. Additionally, the Center will establish a Drug Overdose Technical Assistance Center that will provide targeted drug overdose data to local communities in an effort to inform overdose prevention interventions and policies.
“On behalf of the Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center, we would like to thank Senator McConnell for advocating on our behalf to the CDC for state drug overdose prevention funding,” said Dr. Bunn.