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.
On June 28, 2017, we announced our plans 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, we issued 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. The office awarded a contract to a legal team in September 2017.
Current Prescription Drug Industry Lawsuits
Since taking office, Beshear has been working to hold opioid manufacturers and distributors accountable and to find workable solutions to the drug epidemic.
In 2016, the office joined a multistate lawsuit alleging the drugmaker of Suboxone, a drug used for treating opioid addiction, tried to monopolize the market.
In November 2017, Beshear's office first filed suit against 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.
In 2018, Beshear sued opioid distributors, AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson Corporation, which together are responsible for supplying 85 percent of opioids in Kentucky, and pharmaceutical manufacturers Janssen Pharmaceuticals (Johnson and Johnson) and Mallinckrodt.
Beshear also filed suit against Walgreens for its dual role as distributor and pharmacy in allegedly failing to legally monitor its own operations that shipped and dispensed large quantities of opioids through its more than 70 locations statewide.
See the table below for the status of these lawsuits.