Attorney General Andy Beshear believes the single greatest threat to Kentucky is the state's drug epidemic. Since taking office, Beshear has taken numerous steps to fight against the scourge and help those addicted.
Taking Action Against Drug Manufacturers, Distributors and Retailers
Prescription pills are still the largest driver of addiction in Kentucky. Over 80 percent of heroin users become addicted through these pills. While the large pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors have made billions from these drugs, they have taken little to no responsibility for their negative effects. In June 2017, Beshear announced that his office intends to file multiple lawsuits against drug manufacturers, distributors and retailers where there is evidence that they contributed to the opioid epidemic by illegally marketing and selling opioids to Kentuckians. To support this litigation, Beshear is issuing a request for proposal (RFP) for legal services to assist the Commonwealth in multiple lawsuits and to ensure that Kentucky tax dollars are not used for the costs of the litigations.
In November 2017, Beshear first filed suit against drug manufacturer Endo Pharmaceuticals regarding its drug Opana ER. The suit alleges Endo violated state law and directly contributed to opioid-related deaths and overdoses in Kentucky.
Beshear has also sued four national opioid distributors, Pennsylvania-based AmerisourceBergen, Ohio-based Cardinal Health, San Francisco-based McKesson Corporation and New Jersey pharmaceutical manufacturer Johnson & Johnson, and its Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Ortho-McNeil subsidiaries.
As the lawsuits progress, Beshear said his main priority is to make sure these drug companies are hauled into a Kentucky court and held accountable to those they have harmed – the people of Kentucky.
Launched Kentucky Opioid Disposal Program
In August 2017, Beshear launched the Kentucky Opioid Disposal Program, the state's first initiative allowing Kentuckians to safely dispose of opioid medications at home. In total, the program has the potential to dispose of more than 2.2 million unused opioids. Since announcing the program, Beshear has worked with local officials from Mayfield to Louisville who are interested in helping their citizens clean out medicine cabinets and create safer communities.
Providing Funding to Support Substance Abuse Treatment Centers and Programs
Beshear's office provided $8 million from a settlement the office secured against the drugmaker of OxyContin. The monies went directly to 15 substance treatment centers across Kentucky. From a different settlement, the office dedicated $2 million to expand and enhance Rocket Docket programs that expedite drug cases, generate significant cost savings and allow select defendants rapid access to substance abuse treatment.
Hosting Community Drug Forums with Local Leaders and Advocates
Beshear is currently working with local law enforcement and community leaders to host substance abuse awareness forums across the state. The office has also been instrumental in numerous drug related arrests, including working with federal authorities on arresting a fentanyl dealer whose drugs had killed several Kentuckians.
Working with Other Attorneys General to Implement New Solutions
On the national level, Beshear is working as co-chair on the National Association of Attorneys General Substance Abuse Committee and with AGs in West Virginia and Ohio to find solutions to the drug crisis.
Investigating and Arresting Those Illegally Prescribing Opioids
The office's Drug Investigation Branch has been instrumental in numerous drug related arrests, including working with federal authorities on arresting a fentanyl dealer whose drugs killed several Kentuckians. The office investigates the illegal distribution and over prescribing of prescription drugs by doctors, nurse practitioners and pharmacies. Our detectives not only seek out illegal practices in Kentucky but all over the country, where there is illegal over prescribing of opioid medications to our Commonwealth citizens. The branch works closely with multiple local, state and federal agencies and manages the Appalachian HIDTA (High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area) Rx Diversion Task Force based in Southeast Kentucky. This branch also has detectives assigned to the DEA Task Force in Lexington, which focuses on illegal prescribing of medications and the heroin epidemic that have ravaged communities across Kentucky.