Kentucky Opioid Abatement Advisory Commission Explores New Treatments for Opioid Use Disorder

FRANKFORT, Ky. (May 31, 2023) – Bryan Hubbard, Chairman and Executive Director of the Kentucky Opioid Abatement Advisory Commission (KYOAAC), along with members of the Commission, shared plans today to explore new therapeutic treatment options for those affected by opioid use disorder. They were joined by representatives from the Veteran Mental Health Leadership Coalition, Reason for Hope, Heroic Hearts Project, and Veterans Exploring Treatment Solutions.

The proposal involves KYOAAC investigating new treatments to reverse the chemical effects of opioid addiction, including opioid withdrawal. Through community collaboration and the potential creation of public/private partnerships, Chairman Hubbard and the KYOAAC plan to study new treatment models and seek, where necessary, clinical validation for the next generation of opioid treatment.

“Kentucky must overcome the opioid epidemic by any and all means necessary,” said Chairman Hubbard. “As we begin the next phase in our fight against this crisis, we must explore any treatment option that demonstrates breakthrough therapeutic potential. Our goal is to investigate the creation of a new standard for treating opioid dependence, so we can finally end this cycle of pain in the Commonwealth.”

While Kentucky’s overdose deaths reportedly fell five percent from 2022, overdose deaths are up 60 percent since 2019. Over three years, the Commonwealth has lost 7,665 Kentuckians to overdose. That’s more than a fourth of the population of Paducah and a third of the population of Ashland.

“Veterans are on the front lines of the opioid and mental health crises that continue to worsen. We must connect those who selflessly served our nation with the health care that they need,” said Retired Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Martin Steele, who also serves as CEO of Reason for Hope and President of the Veteran Mental Health Leadership Coalition. “Today’s announcement is a significant first step toward Kentucky becoming a leader in 21st century opioid use disorder treatment. I applaud the Commission for undertaking this task.” 

Existing addiction treatment models have modest success rates. Some existing treatments are also subject to misuse. Prevailing opioid use disorder treatment models carry an average cost of $139,200 per person per recovery attempt. Meanwhile, from January 1, 2017 to May 26, 2023, pharmaceutical companies billed Kentucky Medicaid $1,024,741,219 for 101,883,355 doses of suboxone, one of the most common and presently effective medications for treating opioid use disorder.