The men and women of the United States Armed Forces risk their lives every day to defend our great nation and preserve our freedom. As Kentucky's chief law officer, I want to do what I can to help our nation's heroes and their families. That's why I joined with the Department of Justice and the Attorneys General from Illinois, Indiana and North Carolina to develop a legal "toolkit" to protect our servicemembers and veterans from unscrupulous businesses and scam artists.
This toolkit will be provided to all Attorneys General to assist their offices in identifying and addressing common consumer protection issues facing servicemembers, including abusive lending practices, student debt and for-profit colleges that prey on military men and women, as well as identity theft. For more information, please see our press release.
Earlier this week, I joined Governor Beshear, House Speaker Stumbo, Senate President Stivers and others as House Bill 217 was signed into law. This measure makes common sense improvements to Kentucky's landmark prescription drug legislation. These changes will make it easier for doctors and patients to live within the confines of the law, yet it upholds the original intent to fight prescription drug abuse in Kentucky.
This law is working. Approximately half of the state's pain clinics have shut their doors and for the first time in a decade prescriptions for the most abused/diverted drugs like Oxycodone, hydrocodone and Opana are down, in some cases nearly 50 percent. (More information here.)
My Office of Consumer Protection announced this week the recovery of lost membership fees for hundreds of former customers of a Lexington, Ky. health club. We have sent refunds totaling more than $36,000 to nearly 600 consumers for the unused portion of membership fees at the former Shapes New Dimensions, Inc.
We also joined with other states and the federal government in reaching a $22.5 million criminal and civil settlement with Par Pharmaceutical Companies, Inc. I am proud of the work we are doing to recover money for Kentucky taxpayers and to bring to justice to drug companies that put profits ahead of patient care. We've recovered or been awarded nearly $300 million for the state and federal Medicaid program. That's why my Medicaid Fraud Unit was named one of the most aggressive unit's in the country for fighting fraud.
It was great visiting this morning with WKYT's Bill Bryant during a taping of Kentucky Newsmakers. We talked about a variety of issues including the advisory opinion I issued yesterday on industrial hemp in Kentucky, our investigation of Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing and how our participation in the national mortgage foreclosure settlement has provided second chances to thousands of Kentucky homeowners. Kentucky Newsmakers airs this weekend on WKYT Channel 27 in Lexington or you can watch it online at WKYT.com.