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Beshear, Lawmakers Want Permanent Fund for Drug Treatment

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Attorney General Andy Beshear

Pharmaceutical settlement dollars won by AG would go into dedicated trust fund

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Jan. 24, 2018) – Attorney General Andy Beshear and House lawmakers have filed legislation that creates a permanent substance abuse trust fund to battle addiction, bolster law enforcement efforts and support drug abuse prevention efforts across the state.

House Bill 219 creates the Kentucky Addiction Prevention, Enforcement and Recovery Fund – a fund with an oversight board to administer dollars in an efficient manner to address the immediate needs of law enforcement, treatment providers and prevention educators.

During a time of tight state budgets, Beshear said the trust fund’s dedicated revenue source would be settlement dollars won by the Office of the Attorney General against irresponsible drug companies, manufacturers or distributors.

Currently, Beshear has filed lawsuits against McKesson Corporation over unfair, misleading and deceptive business practices for excessively distributing opioids to Kentucky and Endo Pharmaceuticals for violating state law and directly contributing to opioid related deaths and overdoses in Kentucky from its drug Opana ER.

“As a community, as a state and as our brother and our sister’s keeper, we must come together to find solutions to this crisis,” Beshear said. “The establishment of a trust fund ensures that any funds recovered from our two current lawsuits and any future lawsuits are used for their intended purpose and are not diverted to whatever current issues happen to be the hot topic at the time.”

With four deadly overdoses a day, Kentucky must have a sustained funding commitment to help every family and community across the state, Beshear said.

Bill sponsor Dennis Keene, of Wilder, said Kentucky’s war on drugs is “a top priority for the General Assembly, transcending party lines.”

“We’re all in this together,” he said “The committee will include a bipartisan appointed group to administer the funding received as a result of lawsuits filed and won by Attorney General Beshear. This is a tremendous opportunity to make inroads in the war against drug abuse and addiction, and most importantly – prevention.”

Rep. Keene said there are 30 co-sponsors of House Bill 219.

The governor and the attorney general would appoint members to the Kentucky Addiction Prevention, Enforcement and Recovery Fund, Beshear said. The president of the senate and speaker of the house would serve as ex-officio members.

Beshear said the purpose of the Kentucky Addiction Prevention, Enforcement and Recovery Fund would be similar to his office’s commitment over the last two years to provide millions in settlement funds to treatment, prevention and Kentucky’s Rocket Docket programs.

Kentucky’s Rocket Docket programs quickly move addicts through the court system and into treatment. Beshear said the programs saved Kentucky taxpayers $12 million last year and are on track to save $16 million in 2018. In 2016, Beshear provided $8 million from a pharmaceutical settlement to 15 substance treatment centers across Kentucky.

Children’s Home of Northern Kentucky was one of those centers, receiving $450,000 from Beshear’s office. CEO Rick Wurth said a trust fund is “simply good news for Kentuckians.”

“The approach of General Beshear and Rep. Keene minimizes bureaucracy, increases community involvement and guards against politicizing life-saving resources for those in the grips of addiction,” Wurth said.

Beshear provided $900,000 to Hope in the Mountains in Prestonsburg. Executive Director Renee McCoy said the trust fund and oversight board are “so very necessary to ensure monies are spent for their intended purpose.”

The push to create a trust fund through legislation is part of Beshear’s ongoing efforts to tackle the state’s drug epidemic.

Beshear has launched the state’s first initiative to allow Kentuckians to safely dispose of opioid medications at home, and his office has been instrumental in numerous drug related arrests, including working with federal authorities to arrest a fentanyl dealer whose drugs killed several Kentuckians.

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