Attorney General Andy Beshear is taking another step in the fight against what he believes is the single greatest threat to Kentucky – the state’s drug epidemic.
Beshear today 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.
Last week Beshear announced Kentucky was one of several states participating in a bipartisan coalition among AGs using their investigative tools, including subpoenas for documents and testimony, to address the opioid crisis.
Beshear is co-chair on the National Association of Attorneys General Substance Abuse Committee.
The RFP, Beshear said, is a critical next step in moving the investigation into immediate and future litigation.
“Kentuckians have seen the effort this office has made to combat addiction and to go after those who have willingly contributed to the opioid epidemic that has caused children to lose their parents, and parents to lose their children,” Beshear said. “The ongoing commitment by my office will continue as we actively work to leave no stone unturned and hold accountable those responsible.”
The RFP names McKesson Corporation, a California-based pharmaceutical distributor, as well as other potential “entities and individuals.”
Beshear said Kentucky, like other states, is experiencing personal and economic devastation from the opioid epidemic. According to the CDC, the total economic burden associated with prescription opioid abuse, including the cost of health care, lost productivity, substance abuse treatment and the impact on the criminal justice system in the United States is $78.5 billion a year.
Attorneys general in Ohio, Mississippi, Missouri and West Virginia have recently filed legal actions against drug manufacturers, distributors and retailers.
Beshear’s latest action follows numerous steps the office has already taken to combat the state’s opioid epidemic.
The AG’s office previously settled a $24 million lawsuit with Purdue Pharma regarding OxyContin. Beshear’s office has provided $8 million from that settlement directly to 15 substance treatment centers across Kentucky.
From a different drug company 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.
Recently, Beshear joined a multistate lawsuit alleging the drugmaker of Suboxone, a drug used for treating opioid addiction, tried to monopolize the market.
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.
“It is my hope that the governor and lawmakers commit to use the more than $11 million the AG’s office will provide for the next budget to fund additional drug treatment and to combat violence in our cities and counties because drugs drive virtually all crime. Only by working together can we save our families and communities from the crisis of our times.”