Kentucky is one of seven states to get grants from Bloomberg to fight the record-setting epidemic of opioid overdoses

Michael R. Bloomberg

Kentucky is among seven states that will get millions of dollars from Bloomberg Philanthropies to fight the opioid-overdose epidemic.

Gov. Andy Beshear announced the $10 million grant to the state “with the goal of reducing overdoses and saving lives by increasing access to medications and expanding preventative services,” a news release said.

Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin are also getting grants over five years. “The Bloomberg Philanthropies Overdose Prevention Initiative also includes partners such as Johns Hopkins University, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and PreventionThe Pew Charitable Trusts and more,” the release said.

Former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies, said in the release, “The overdose epidemic is one of the worst public-health crises we’ve ever faced; 254 Americans die every single day from drug overdoses. It’s tearing families apart across the country, and we need bolder, nationwide action, especially from the federal government – but we can’t afford to wait until that happens.”

Kentucky’s overdose deaths fell 15 percent from 2017 to 2018, more than the national decline, but started going back up in late 2019. In 2020, overdoses killed 1,964 Kentuckians, the most ever in a 12-month period; it was a 49% increase over the prior year.

The increase has largely been driven by synthetic opioids such as fentanyl. “The presence of fentanyl analogues in other substances, including stimulants and pressed pills, has also exacerbated the crisis,” the release said. “While an increase in mortality rates were observed across all genders, age brackets, races and regions of the state, the largest increase in drug overdose deaths has been among Black Kentuckians, at 64%.”

State Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Eric Friedlander said, “There is no single cause or cure. The disease of addiction is complex, multi-factorial and intersects with many long-standing priorities and challenges related to health, wellness, economic security and justice. We look forward to this collaborative partnership, lives saved and the recovery of many more Kentuckians.”

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