(LOUISVILLE, KY - June 27, 2018) As Kentucky continues to struggle with the health impact and economic cost of a massive opioid addiction crisis, the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky's annual health policy forum will explore medical marijuana and other alternative pain therapies, as well as the rise in infectious disease associated with the crisis.

"We need to understand the truth behind the push for medical marijuana, hear the facts about whether it works to relieve pain, and learn the risks associated with its use," said Foundation President and CEO Ben Chandler, adding, "This year's speakers will give us the latest updates on the causes and impacts of Kentucky's substance use crisis, and will zero in on how we're doing in addressing what continues to feed the crisis and the resulting symptoms."

The 16th annual Howard L. Bost Memorial Health Policy Forum is titled "Kentucky's Substance Use Epidemic: A Solutions Update," and is sponsored by Centerstone and Bluegrass.org.

Keynoting the forum is Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Barry Meier, author of Pain Killer: An Empire of Deceit and the Origin of America's Opioid Epidemic. The book chronicles Meier's decades-long investigation into the aggressive marketing of the highly addictive drug OxyContin by Purdue Pharma, and the role it played in creating America's opioid crisis. Meier also will sign copies of his book, to be available for sale at the forum.

Registration is now open for the forum, which typically draws about 300 attendees, including legislators, public health professionals and advocates, and health care providers and payers. This year, it will be held on Monday, Sept. 24, 2018, at the Griffin Gate Marriott Hotel in Lexington, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The Foundation offers the forum free, to enable more nonprofit health leaders and advocates to attend, but registration is on a first-come, first-served basis until the event is full.                           

Panelists at the first morning session, Kentucky's Addiction Burden, will provide the latest updates on how substance addiction is impacting both the health and the economy of Kentucky. The moderator and panelists are:

Kentucky's Addiction Burden Panel
Dr. Wilson Compton, Deputy Director, National Institute on Drug Abuse
Alex Elswick, Co-Founder, Voices of Hope
Nancy Hale, President/CEO, Operation UNITE
Dr. Scott Teitelbaum, University of Florida
Emily Walden, Advocate, STOPPnow/Fed Up!

A second group of morning speakers on the Agency Exchange panel will share various approaches to address issues raised by the crisis in Kentucky.

Agency Exchange: Views From the Front Lines Panel
Kristi Putnam, Deputy Director, Kentucky Cabinet for Health & Family Services
Dr. Allen Brenzel, Clinical Director, Kentucky Department for Behavioral Health, Development and Intellectual Disabilities
Todd Kuehnlein, Resident Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration
Richard Sanders, Commissioner, Kentucky State Police

Several afternoon speakers will share the latest science regarding controversial proposals to legalize the prescribing of marijuana for medical purposes, including pain relief, at one of three concurrent panel sessions. Additional pain-relief alternatives to opioids, including physical therapy, will be the focus of another panel. The third afternoon panel will offer solutions to the rise of infectious diseases, such as hepatitis C; Kentucky leads the nation in this disease, often spread through intravenous drug needle sharing. Each afternoon panel will be repeated once, so attendees can choose two of three. The moderators and speakers are:

Medical Marijuana Panel
Anthony Zipple, CEO, Centerstone
Dr. David Bradford, Professor, University of Georgia
Dr. Jason Hockenberry, Professor, Emory University
Dr. Scott Teitlebaum, University of Florida
Ed Shemeyla, Coordinator, National Marijuana Initiative

Alternatives to Opioids Panel
Dr. Brent Wright, Assoc. Dean for Rural Health Innovation, University of Louisville/Glasgow Primary Residency
Dr. Phillip Chang, Chief Medical Officer, UK Healthcare
Dr. Danesh Mazloomdoost, Medical Director, Wellward Regenerative Medicine
Dr. Mel Pohl, Chief Medical Officer, Las Vegas Recovery Center
Dr. Karim Rasheed, Pain Management Specialist, KentuckyOne Health Pain Care

Infectious Diseases Panel
Jabari Burton-Barrett, Gilead FOCUS
Dr. Ardis Hoven, Professor, University of Kentucky College of Medicine
Dr. Navin Rajagopalan, Cardiologist, University of Kentucky College of Medicine
Dr. Jeffrey Reeves, Infectious Diseases Specialist, Norton Healthcare

Following the Bost Forum, the Foundation will make all presentations shared by speakers available on its website.

A full agenda and speaker biographies available to date are posted on the Foundation's website at https://www.healthy-ky.org/events/bost-health-policy-forum.

Register Here: https://www.regonline.com/Bost2018

About the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky
Funded by an endowment, the mission of the nonpartisan Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky is to address the unmet health needs of Kentuckians by developing and influencing policy, improving access to care, reducing health risks and disparities, and promoting health equity. Since the Foundation opened its doors in 2001, it has invested more than $27 million in health policy research, advocacy, and demonstration project grants across the Commonwealth. Follow the Foundation on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, and visit our website at www.healthy-ky.org

Media Contacts:
Bonnie J. Hackbarth
877-326-2583 (Office)
502-552-3770 (Mobile)

Alexa Kerley
877-326-2583 (Office)