A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Beshear joins multistate coalition investigating role of drugmakers in ongoing opioid crisis

Attorney General Andy Beshear announced he is working with attorneys general from across the country to investigate whether drug manufacturers contributed to the opioid epidemic by illegally marketing and selling opioids.

Beshear said the bipartisan coalition is working to address the national opioid crisis and is using its investigative tools, including subpoenas for documents and testimony.

Nationwide and in Kentucky, prescription and illicit opioids are the main driver of drug overdose deaths. Opioids were involved in 33,091 deaths nationwide in 2015, and opioid overdoses have quadrupled over the past 18 years.

“The single greatest threat to Kentucky is our drug epidemic,” said Beshear. “The crisis is killing our family and friends – it is the main source of crime in our communities and it is preventing job and economic growth. This is the crisis of our times, and finding a solution requires everyone working together.”

The Office of the Attorney General often will not confirm or deny the existence of any investigation. However, a recent lawsuit filed in Ohio created a need to ensure Kentuckians that the office is actively working on the issue and is committed to leaving no stone unturned to solve this crisis.

Beshear’s latest action follows numerous steps his office has already taken to combat the state’s opioid epidemic.

The office previously settled a lawsuit with Purdue Pharma regarding OxyContin. Beshear’s office provided $8 million from that settlement directly to 15 substance treatment centers throughout 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 maker 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 have killed several Kentuckians.

Beshear is presently the co-chair of the National Association of Attorneys General Substance Abuse Committee.

From Attorney General’s Office Communications

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