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Kentucky to Pony Up $32 Million for Drug Treatment

The money comes from a settlement reached with Merck and GlaxoSmithKline.

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Governor's Mansion in Frankfort, Kentucky
Photo via Shutterstock

By Shawn Dwyer

01/07/14

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Governor Steve Beshar recently announced that Kentucky will dedicate $32 million in an effort to bolster various drug treatment programs.

The Commonwealth will use funds that Attorney General Jack Conway secured by settling lawsuits with Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp. and GlaxoSmithKline. Merck was sued for failing to disclose to doctors and patients about the heart attack risks in taking Vioxx, while Glaxo failed to disclose to patients that their diabetes drug, Avandia, increased the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Governor Beshar said that the money will extend Kentucky’s drug policy beyond tough law enforcement into treatment and education. "Attacking prescription drug abuse demands a holistic strategy that includes robust treatment efforts,” he said. “This expansion of treatment availability will make an incredible impact on individuals, families and communities suffering from the impact of substance abuse and addiction.”

The bulk of the money, around $19 million, will be used to start a grant program that will fund juvenile substance abuse treatment programs, including an expansion of existing facilities as well as creating new care centers. That particular move was hailed by state legislators, including House Speaker Greg Stumbo. "This money will go a long way in helping Kentucky's ongoing efforts to provide treatment options for drug abuse. I am especially pleased that a sizeable portion will be used to help juveniles and to provide needed funding for the KASPER program,” he said. The KASPER program refers to the state’s electronic prescription drug monitoring program.

Meanwhile, the settlement will also divvy out $500,000 to complete the construction of Recovery Kentucky Center in Ashland, KY., while another $560,000 will be allocated to creating 14 new drug-free halfway homes for those transitioning out of rehab. Other funds will be used to support substance abuse programs for pregnant women; develop a substance abuse screening tool to identify and intervene with at-risk kids; and create a database to evaluate juvenile centers.

"For thousands of Kentuckians, this expansion will offer an opportunity to restore their health and return to productive lives,” said Gov. Beshar.

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