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U.S. Attorney’s Office Announces Agreement to Ensure Access to Medications for Opioid Use Disorder at Big Sandy Regional Detention Center

LEXINGTON, KY (Monday, December 4, 2023) – United States Attorney Carlton S. Shier, IV, announced Monday that the federal government has reached an agreement with the Big Sandy Regional Jail Authority, which operates the Big Sandy Regional Detention Center (BSRDC), to ensure that people with opioid use disorder (OUD) receive medically appropriate treatment with any FDA-approved medication for OUD, as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The ADA prohibits state and local governments from discriminating against individuals with disabilities and protects people in recovery from OUD, including individuals who are taking OUD medication at the direction of a medical provider.

 “Eastern Kentucky has long been on the front lines of the opioid epidemic and our office remains committed to a comprehensive approach to fighting this public health crisis, including enforcement of the ADA’s requirements safeguarding treatment,” said U.S. Attorney Shier. “Considering the impact this crisis has had on our area, treatment must be a critical tool in our efforts to fight back.  Access to medications that treat opioid use disorder saves lives, and we are pleased we were able to reach a settlement with the Big Sandy Regional Detention Center to better ensure access to this important treatment for the people in its custody.”

The settlement agreement requires BSRDC to revise its policies to provide access to all three forms of FDA-approved medications to people with OUD and ensure that decisions about treatment are based on an individualized determination by qualified medical personnel. Specifically, BSRDC will medically evaluate all individuals for OUD at the start of their incarceration. It will ensure that individuals who were receiving OUD medication from a licensed treatment provider before their incarceration are continued on that medication. The facility will also offer all individuals with OUD booked into the jail the option to receive treatment with any FDA-approved medically appropriate OUD medication, even if they were not being treated with that medication before their incarceration.

BSRDC will not change or discontinue an individual’s use of a particular OUD medication unless doing so is based on an individualized determination by a qualified medical provider. The jail also will not use incentives, rewards, or punishments to encourage or discourage individuals at the facility from receiving any particular OUD medication.

This matter was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Carrie Pond as part of an ongoing effort by the Justice Department to combat the opioid epidemic, including by eliminating discriminatory barriers to treatment for OUD. For more information about the Justice Department’s work to address discrimination against individuals with opioid use disorder, please visit www.ada.gov/topics/opioid-use-disorder/. For more information on the Office’s civil rights efforts, please visit https://www.justice.gov/usao-edky/civil-rights. More information about the ADA is available at the Justice Department’s toll-free ADA Information line at (800) 514 0301 or (800) 514 0383 (TTY) and on the ADA website at www.ada.gov.

ADA complaints may be submitted to the U.S. Attorney’s Office by emailing or by contacting the Office’s Civil Rights Hotline at (859) 685-4880.

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