Kentucky will devote tens of millions of dollars in support of psychedelic research as part of its fight against opioid addiction, the state announced on Wednesday.
At a news conference held by the Kentucky Opioid Abatement Advisory Commission, state Attorney General Daniel Cameron detailed the commission’s plans to explore new treatments for individuals suffering from those affected by opioid use disorder, a commitment that will include the allocation of more than $40 million for psychedelic research.
“We cannot continue to lose over two-thousand Kentuckians [to addictions] each year,” Cameron said, as quoted by Psychedelic Alpha.
In the announcement, the commission said that its proposal includes “investigating new treatments to reverse the chemical effects of opioid addiction, including opioid withdrawal.”
“Kentucky must overcome the opioid epidemic by any and all means necessary,” said Bryan Hubbard, Chairman and Executive Director of the Kentucky Opioid Abatement Advisory Commission (KYOAAC). “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.”
At Wednesday’s news conference, Hubbard said that “over the coming months, the commission will explore the possibility of devoting no less than $42 million over the next six years to the creation of public-private partnerships which can incubate, support and drive the development of ibogaine all the way through the FDA approval process,” according to Psychedelic Alpha.
The money will come from a $26 billion settlement reached last year between multiple state and local governments and some of the country’s largest pharmaceutical companies over their role in creating the opioid epidemic.
The Kentucky Opioid Abatement Advisory Commission was created last year and charged with the task of distributing the more than $842 million that was awarded to the Commonwealth in last year’s settlements.
“The Commission is comprised of nine voting and two non-voting members and includes stakeholders from, among others, the prevention and treatment community, law enforcement, and victims of the opioid crisis,” the commission’s website explains.
The settlement resolved “more than 4,000 claims of state and local governments across the country,” according to Cameron’s website, and it was “the second-largest multistate agreement in U.S. history, second only to the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement.”
“Tentative settlement details were initially announced on July 21, 2021, and, after careful review, Attorney General Cameron signed the settlement on behalf of the Commonwealth. He was joined by a broad coalition of states and subdivisions in joining both settlement agreements, one with opioid manufacturer Johnson & Johnson and another with the three pharmaceutical distributors: AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson,” the website explains.
“The two settlement agreements require the distributors and J&J to pay billions of dollars to abate the opioid epidemic, totaling $26 billion over 18 years, with approximately $22.7 billion available for opioid abatement.”
Cameron appointed Hubbard to oversee the commission last year.
At Wednesday’s news conference, Hubbard expressed urgency to stem the tide of the epidemic.
“We must overcome the opioid epidemic by any and all humanitarian means necessary,” Hubbard said, as quoted by Psychedelic Alpha. “Our history demands it.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the “number of drug overdose deaths increased by nearly 30% from 2019 to 2020 and has quintupled since 1999.”
“Nearly 75% of the 91,799 drug overdose deaths in 2020 involved an opioid. From 2019 to 2020, there were significant changes in opioid-involved death rates,” according to the CDC.
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