Federal prosecutors say a Kentucky-based pharmacy has agreed to pay $9.25 million to settle allegations that it solicited and received kickbacks from a manufacturer in exchange for promoting a drug with nursing home patients.

Prosecutors announced Wednesday the settlement with Louisville-based PharMerica Corp. resolves claims that it received kickbacks from Abbott Laboratories in exchange for recommending that physicians prescribe the Abbott-manufactured drug Depakote.

The settlement partially resolves allegations in two whistleblower lawsuits filed in federal court in the western district of Virginia.

In 2012, Abbott pleaded guilty and agreed to pay $1.5 billion over allegations that it promoted Depakote for patients with dementia and autism — uses not approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The drug was approved for bipolar disorder and epilepsy.

Kentucky Dept. of Veterans Affairs

The new Radcliff Veterans Center is under construction and hiring staff in preparation for the opening estimated for mid-2016. 

The center’s administrator Israel Ray said the skilled nursing facility will provide top quality care for those who have served their country.           

"It will be unlike any long-term care facility in the state of Kentucky, in terms of the services and the layout that is set up for those veterans who will reside at the Radcliff Veterans Center," said Ray. "It will on a beautiful park-like naturistic setting.” 

The center is on 194 acres donated by Fort Knox.  A total of 120 veterans will live in the campus-like community.  Ray said the staff and the design of the center will create a quality, home-like community for those who have served their country.                                          

“No one will have to share. In the typical model there’s a piece of fabric or a cubical curtain, if you will, that separates two individuals in a semi-private room," said  Ray. "That will not be the case for the Radcliff Veterans Center. Every veteran will have their own private suite.”

The center is currently hiring  eight administrative staff, mostly as department heads. More hiring will follow, to staff up to a total of about 200 employees.

The Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs estimates there are 16,000 veterans in Hardin County. That’s in addition to 56,000 veterans in Jefferson County and 7,000 in Bullitt County.  

All across the nation Saturday, people will be throwing out un-needed medications in an effort to keep the drugs out of the wrong hands. 

It’s the annual National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, and Bowling Green-Warren County Drug Task Force Director Tommy Loving says there are several reasons to dispose of old prescriptions.

"Obviously if there are children in the house they could get to them and not know what they are and overdose," Loving told WKU Public Radio.  "It makes you the target of a burglary  if people know you have a bunch of pain meds in your medicine cabinet."

Collection drives will be held across the U.S. Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. local time. 

In Bowling Green, the city police department, Kentucky State Police post, and Greenwood High School will serve as drop-off locations. 

Prescriptions may also be disposed of at the Owensboro Police Department and the Kentucky State Police post in Elizabethtown. 

Log on to to find locations in your area.

Despite improvement in the national economy in recent years, more Kentucky children were living in poverty in 2014 than the year prior, according to data released this month by the U.S. Census Bureau.

About 260,000 Kentucky children lived in poverty in 2014, accounting for more than 26 percent of the state’s kids, the Census data show. That’s a slight increase from 2013, when the rate was 25.3.

Although the one-year shift is considered statistically insignificant, it means that nearly nearly 9,000 more children lived in poverty across Kentucky during 2014 than the year before. And it confirms a steady increase in the state’s child poverty rate since the epic economic recession that began in 2008. That year, about 23 percent of Kentucky kids lived in poverty, according to an analysis of the U.S. Census data by Kentucky Youth Advocates.

It’s a trend consistent with the overall state poverty rate, which has increased from 17 percent to 19 percent since 2008, the data show.

Children living in impoverished families are more likely to find hardship in social and academic settings, said Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates.

Office of State Auditor

More than 3,000 rape kits are sitting untested in Kentucky’s state and local law enforcement offices, according to State Auditor Adam Edelen.

In a report released Monday, Edelen said law enforcement agencies have failed to enter DNA evidence from rape kits into the FBI’s national DNA database, which can match DNA profiles and help identify an attacker’s identity or link an attacker to previous crimes.

“The results of this initiative are stomach-turning,” Edelen said in a released statement on Monday.

“When a victim has the courage to undergo an invasive and traumatizing exam after an assault, he or she deserves to have the evidence in that sexual assault kit analyzed. One of government’s fundamental responsibilities is to bring these rapists to justice.”

The auditor’s report said the number of untested rape kits stems in part from communication issues and a lack of resources.

Kentucky Leads Nation in Drop of Uninsured

Sep 17, 2015

The number of people in Kentucky without health insurance fell 5.8 percent last year, the largest drop of any state in the country according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Kentucky was one of 31 states that chose to increase the number of people eligible to receive taxpayer-funded health insurance in 2013. Since then, Kentucky has added about 400,000 people to its Medicaid program and has been held up as an example by President Barack Obama of the success of his health care law.

Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear said the report shows Kentuckians are not waiting until they are sick to access health care benefits, a fact that will improve the state's overall health.

Republicans question whether the state can afford the expansion, noting that a quarter of the state's population is now receiving government assistance.

U.S. Pacific Fleet / Flickr (Creative Commons License)

State Sen. Ralph Alvarado is looking into whether Kentucky can start selling its successful health insurance exchange program, Kynect, to other states.

Alvarado wants to offer the technology and expertise behind Kynect to other states for a fee. States currently have the option of creating their own insurance marketplace or using the federal government’s under the Affordable Care Act. More than 30 states currently rely on the federal exchange.

Alvarado, a Republican physician who represents Winchester, said profits from his plan could help pay for the future costs of expanded Medicaid in Kentucky, which are estimated at $1.1 billion over the next six years.

“It will provide our neighbors who want state exchanges a service that they want, and it would give our taxpayers a break from having to foot that bill in the future,” he said.

Caverna Memorial

A Hart County hospital is being acquired by The Medical Center of Bowling Green.

At an announcement in Horse Cave Monday morning, the leadership of Caverna Memorial Hospital said it had agreed to the deal, which will be complete by the end of the year. Under the plan, Caverna Memorial will be known as The Medical Center at Caverna.

Caverna Memorial has been independently operated since 1967, and is a 25-bed, non-profit critical access hospital.

The Medical Center executive vice-president Wade Stone says the increasingly complex and expensive nature of health care is making it tough for rural hospitals to remain independently-operated.

“It’s making sense for hospitals like Caverna—small rural hospitals—to start looking for options in terms of partnering, or being part of an acquisition, to make sure they have the resources they need to survive long-term.”

U.S. Pacific Fleet / Flickr (Creative Commons License)

A new study examining the impact of the Affordable Care Act on Kentucky offers insights into how residents are using and benefiting from the federal health law.

It was compiled by the State Health Access Data Assistance Center, a health policy research institute at the University of Minnesota, and the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.

The study released Tuesday analyzed the first quarter of 2015. The center will be updating the information quarterly and compiling studies about coverage, access to services, quality of care, cost and outcomes in Kentucky.

Half of the people who enrolled in Kentucky’s state-run health care exchange, Kynect, chose the Silver Plan, according to the study.

Flickr/Creative Commons/EC-JPR

The American Red Cross chapter serving southern and western Kentucky is trying to avoid an emergency shortage of certain blood types.

The Red Cross Tennessee Valley region is running extremely low on donations of O-negative, B-negative, and A-negative blood types.

Spokeswoman Lindsay English says the regional chapter has received about 1,400 fewer donations in June and July compared to the previous ten months.

“This time of year is always really challenging for blood collection, just because of people being so busy, and having different schedules and vacation plans. And now people are thinking about back to school.”

The Red Cross is also seeking donations of type AB blood, which can be given to patients of all blood types. The group is also putting out the call for donors of platelets, a key clotting component in blood used to help cancer patients, surgical patients, adn blood marrow recipients.

Here are some blood donation events being held in southern Kentucky: