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Republicans deny Attorney General Office's contract to prosecute big pharma's role in opioid crisis

 

Republicans chose to play politics Tuesday instead of allowing the Attorney General’s Office to proceed with a contract to prosecute big pharma’s role in Kentucky’s opioid epidemic.

House and Senate Republicans Stan Lee, Diane St. Onge, Paul Hornback,  Julie Raque Adams and Stephen Meredith denied the Attorney General’s Office a contract authorized by Bill Landrum, Bevin’s secretary of the Finance and Administration Cabinet, to prosecute pharmaceutical companies that contributed to Kentucky’s opioid crisis.

The committee met after both the House and Senate adjourned from the session Tuesday afternoon. 

More than 1,000 Kentuckians die each year from opioid abuse, but Republicans on the Government Contract Review Committee denied the contract citing the very same unfounded reasons postured by Sen. Danny Carroll, R-Paducah, when he put on a similar political witch hunt in October.

Like Carroll, Lee used the Purdue Pharma settlement tried under former Attorney General Jack Conway’s office, as a reason to deny the contract.

The hearing in October unsettled parents of overdose victims so much they left the politically motivated hearing.

The political maneuvering begs the very question of whether the Republicans are serious about ending the opioid crisis in Kentucky and reducing the state’s overdose death rate which has shaken families throughout the commonwealth.

Fayette County, which Lee represents, is one of the top five counties for heroin-related overdose deaths, according to data from the Kentucky Medical Examiner and coroner reports included the 2016 Overdose Fatality Report from the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy. Fayette County reported 48 deaths.

Kenton and Boone Counties, represented by St. Onge, also is in the top five Kentucky counties with a combined 29 overdose deaths.

The hearing should be equally troubling for state residents represented by Adams in Jefferson County. It is also listed in the top five counties in 2016 with 122 reported overdose deaths.

Not far from Jefferson County, Republican Sen. Paul Hornback represents Shelby County who has reported 40 deaths since 2012.

Notably, Adams’, St. Onge’s and Lee’s counties all have the highest combined reported deaths from fentanyl and heroin overdose cases.

While Carroll admitted in October Bevin’s office assisted him with his investigation that proved pointless given Attorney General Andy Beshear has had no involvement in the case,  it shouldn’t go unnoticed that Meredith’s son is co-legal counsel to the Governor’s Office.

Meredith represents Breckinridge, Edmonson, Grayson, Hart, Larue and Meade counties. Since 2012, those counties have reported 90 overdose deaths.