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Kentucky's opioid epidemic: Attorney General Andy Beshear's plan for drug settlement money

Posted at 1:53 PM, Sep 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-27 22:02:09-04

ERLANGER, Ky. -- Kentucky Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Andy Beshear proposed the creation of a permanent trust fund to battle the opioid epidemic in Kentucky.

Beshear has filed seven opioid-related lawsuits in the Commonwealth alleging that drug companies have failed to monitor opioid distribution throughout the state.

Speaking at the Grateful Life Center in Erlanger Thursday, Beshear announced pre-filed legislation that, if passed, would allocate funds recovered from those lawsuits to anti-addiction efforts such as drug prevention services, law enforcement and treatment resources.

RELATED: Kentucky attorney general sues Walgreens for 'dual role' in opioid epidemic

In the proposal, Beshear said fines or settlements would also be added to the trust fund.

“This isn’t a battle that’s won in a day or in a press conference. It’s one where we have to absolutely scratch and claw,” Beshear said.

Beshear said the epidemic continues to claim the lives of 30 Kentuckians per week. The attorney general wants to guarantee that revenues gained from any of the seven lawsuits are used to help Kentucky families and communities.

“I believe they should have to come into a courtroom in your neighborhood and explain their actions to your our communities,” Beshear said. “At the end of the day their dollar, their profits, have to be a part of building our future.”

Democratic Rep. Dennis Keene, of Wilder, is the bill’s sponsor.

“We are fighting for our families lives and their future and that’s what we have to stand for,” Keene said. “As long as I’m in the (Kentucky) General Assembly I’m going to join Andy Beshear and we’re going to fight this battle.”

Under the proposal, the governor and the attorney general would appoint members to the fund. Keene said he filed similar legislation last year. It never received a hearing in a House committee, Keene said.

It’s unclear when or if the bill will be heard before a committee.

Beshear will seek the Democratic nomination for governor in 2019. Kentucky Republican Gov. Matt Bevin announced his run for re-election as well.

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin

Responding to an overdose report in July, Bevin said “we are in a crisis state.”

"While we are putting money at it and while we are drawing attention to it, until we start to truly address this and look at underlying causes of these things and what is leading to this -- it is not going to be addressed,” he said.

A report from the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy found 1,565 people died from drug overdoses in 2017.