State had third highest percentage of prescription drug overdoses in 2010
LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 11, 2014) — The Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center (KIPRC), housed in the University of Kentucky College of Public Health, is one of just five awardees in the nation to receive a $1.08 million “Prescription Drug Overdose Prevention Boost” grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). KIPRC is a unique partnership between the University of Kentucky’s College of Public Health and the Kentucky State Department for Public Health.
“Prescription drug overdose is a national epidemic and Kentucky is on the front line,” proclaimed CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden, during a visit to Eastern Kentucky Tuesday night. “CDC is committed to working with community partners, state health programs to address health disparities and improve the lives of Americans.”
The award, provided over a three-year period, targets states “poised to make immediate progress reducing prescription drug overdose” through activities such as leveraging Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs, and conducting policy evaluation to understand what works.
“Kentucky has been a national leader in several aspects of prescription drug overdose prevention,” said Dr. Terry Bunn, director of KIPRC. “This critical funding gives us the opportunity to highlight, evaluate, and build upon Kentucky’s previous efforts and groundwork in preventing prescription drug overdoses.”
Kentucky had the third highest mortality rate of prescription drug overdoses in 2010 (23.6 per 100,000), with the number of all drug overdose deaths more than quadrupling since 1999 (4.9 per 100,000), according to a 2013 report by Trust For America’s Health. Nationally the rate has doubled.
According to the Kentucky Department for Public Health, Eastern Kentucky Appalachian region has a greater prevalence for heart disease (84 percent higher), diabetes (47 percent higher) and obesity (26 percent higher) than the nation’s average. The state’s lung cancer mortality rates are the nation’s highest, at 67 percent above average.
“Many of Eastern Kentucky’s biggest health challenges could be improved — if not altogether reversed — with a little prevention,” said Dr. Stephanie Mayfield, commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health. “Unhealthy habits, like smoking, are one of the main health concerns facing the people of this region. Many of the associated health concerns could be prevented through healthier choices.