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February 19, 2018

THIS WEEK AT THE STATE CAPITOL  

February 12-16, 2018



FRANKFORT -- The Kentucky General Assembly’s 2018 session reached its halfway point this week. While several bills have already been delivered to the governor to be signed in to law, much of lawmakers’ work so far has focused on laying the foundation for what’s to come in the second half of the session.

Hundreds of bills are under consideration in the legislative committee system, which gives lawmakers a chance study bills and hear testimony from people across the state on how proposed changes to state law will affect them. At the same time, budget subcommittees have been extensively digging into details of the proposed state spending plan they received from the governor last month and are considering which changes they should make to the spending plan before it is finalized.

More than 20 bills received approval from either the full Senate or House this week while many more received favorable votes from committees. Legislation that advanced this week includes bills on the following topics:

*  Jail security. House Bill 92 would allow jail canteen profits to be used for the enhancement of jail safety and security. With an 89-0 vote in the House to show agreement to the addition of an emergency clause to the legislation, the bill now goes to the governor for his signature. It would take effect immediately upon being signed.

*  Hemp. House Concurrent Resolution 35 requests that Congress remove hemp from the definition of marijuana in the federal Controlled Substances Act. By allowing Kentucky farmers to use hemp to its full advantage as an agricultural crop, HCR 35 intends to benefit Kentucky’s economy. Passing the House by a vote of 93-2, it now goes to the Senate for consideration.

*  Police protection. House Bill 193 would make it a felony to intentionally expose a law enforcement officer to bodily fluids or bodily waste. The legislation would carry stiffer penalties if the bodily fluids or waste carry—or could carry—a communicable disease. Both crimes would be considered felonies under the proposal. After being approved by the House Judiciary Committee this week, the bill now goes to the full House for consideration.

*  Eye care. House Bill 191 would require that online eye exams and prescriptions offered in Kentucky be accompanied by a real-time visit with a Kentucky eye care provider. The bill was passed by the House with a 90-7 vote and is headed for the Senate for consideration.

*  Organ donation. House Bill 84 would require coroners or medical examiners to release identifying and other relevant information about a deceased person to Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates if the person’s wish to be an organ donor is known and the body is suitable for medical transplant or therapy. In hopes to save many lives, House Bill 84 has received final passage with a 30-0 vote. It now goes to the Governor for his signature.

*  Alcohol. Senate Bill 110 would preserve the status quo in determining how many liquor licenses are issued in individual cities and counties throughout Kentucky. This measure limits the number of licenses available for retail package liquor stores and by-the-drink sales of liquor. Passing through a Senate committee meeting this week, it now goes to the full Senate for consideration.

If you’d like to offer feedback to state lawmakers on issues under consideration, please call the General Assembly’s toll-free message line at 1-800-372-7181.



February 19, 2018

MASSIVE SHIPMENTS OF PRESCRIPTION PAINKILLERS

Distributor’s deliberate actions created public health hazard, violated Kentucky law

 

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Feb. 19, 2018) – Attorney General Andy Beshear today filed suit against one of the nation’s leading opioid distributors for its role in fueling the state’s opioid epidemic by funneling massive amounts of prescription opioids into Kentucky’s communities.

In 2017, Cardinal Health profited from a 20.7 percent market share, the third highest in the industry.In 2017, Cardinal Health profited from a 20.7 percent market share, the third highest in the industry.

In his third opioid lawsuit to date, Beshear is suing Ohio-based Cardinal Health over unfair, misleading and deceptive business practices for excessively distributing opioids, particularly in rural counties in Eastern Kentucky, and for failing to report the suspiciously large volume of these drugs to state and federal authorities.

Beshear filed suit Jan. 22 against another opioid distributor, San Francisco-based McKesson Corporation, for similar claims. Beshear filed his first suit in November 2017 against Endo Pharmaceuticals and Endo Health Solutions for violating state law and directly contributing to state opioid related deaths and overdoses from its drug Opana.

“I’m committed to hauling each of these opioid companies into a Kentucky court to answer for their actions that have devastated our families, communities and state,” Beshear said.“I’m committed to hauling each of these opioid companies into a Kentucky court to answer for their actions that have devastated our families, communities and state,” Beshear said.“I’m committed to hauling each of these opioid companies into a Kentucky court to answer for their actions that have devastated our families, communities and state,” Beshear said. “The authority to hold these companies accountable for both their damages to our state and our people lies with the Attorney General, and I plan to use this authority to seek justice for Kentucky families.”

Along with AmerisourceBergen, McKesson and Cardinal Health distribute 85 percent of the nation’s drugs.

According to Cardinal Health’s second-quarter results for fiscal year 2018, revenue for its pharmaceutical segment increased 5 percent to $31.1 billion just for the quarter due to sales growth from pharmaceutical and specialty distribution customers.

Beshear’s lawsuit, filed in Jefferson Circuit Court, alleges Cardinal Health reaped “a windfall off of the wave of addiction” in Kentucky by choosing profits over people while abrogating its duty to report suspiciously large orders of controlled substances, including opioids, to state and federal law enforcement as required by federal and state laws.

Cardinal Health has admitted failing to meet its reporting duties in the past. For example, in 2016, the company reached a nationwide $44 million settlement for “failure to detect and report suspicious orders of controlled substances.”

In 2017, Cardinal Health profited from a 20.7 percent market share, the third highest in the industry.

From Feb. 1, 2016 to Jan. 31, 2017, Kentucky pharmacies filled 307.2 million doses of opioids, which breaks down to 69 doses for every man, woman and child in Kentucky. Pursuant to its market share, Cardinal Health distributed 63.6 million of those doses of prescription opioids.

From Jan. 1, 2010 through Dec. 31, 2016, Cardinal Health distributed 1,186,418 doses of prescription opioids in Jefferson County alone. Based on Jefferson County’s average population of 755,305, it amounts to 1.5 opioid doses for every man, woman and child living in the county.

Beshear said Cardinal Health carelessly flooded other Kentucky counties with high volumes of prescription opioids during this period as well.

In Floyd County, based upon its market share Cardinal Health distributed approximately 11,669,757 doses of prescription opioids. Based on Floyd County’s average population of 38,638, it amounts to 302 doses for every citizen.

In Clay County, based upon its market share Cardinal Health distributed approximately 5,263,988 doses of prescription opioids. Based on Clay County’s average population of 21,407, it amounts to 245 doses for every citizen.

In Bell County, based upon its market share Cardinal Health distributed approximately 6,228,977 doses of prescription opioids. Based on Bell County’s average population of 27,961, it amounts to 222 doses for every citizen.

From 2012 through 2016, more than 1,250 Kentuckians died from opioid overdoses in these four Kentucky counties. Statewide, for this timeframe, Kentucky experienced more than 5,800 fatal overdoses.

Beshear’s lawsuit against Cardinal Health is just one of hundreds filed across the nation. According to a recent report by the company, as of Feb. 2, 2018, the company has been named in 343 lawsuits.

Two attorneys general have current lawsuits against Cardinal Health – Delaware and New Mexico.

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey settled a lawsuit against Cardinal Health for $20 million.

Beshear is working with AG Morrisey and Ohio AG Mike DeWine to find solutions to the drug crisis in their region of the country.

In December 2017, all federal lawsuits against Cardinal Health, 298 as of Feb. 2, 2018, were ordered transferred for consolidating pre-trail proceedings in a multistate litigation proceedings by U.S. District Judge Dan Polster for the Northern District of Ohio.

Beshear joined AG DeWine, Tennessee AG Herbert Slatery and several other AGs in Cleveland Jan. 31 to represent Kentucky in front of Judge Polster in national prescription opiate litigation talks.

Beshear said the federal judge wanted to hear how pharmaceutical companies and distributors, many who were in the courtroom Jan. 31, have harmed Kentucky families and communities.

“Kentucky has lost so much,” Beshear said. “But a better future is possible. The companies that made billions have a duty to help us create a future. They have a duty to fully fund treatment, prevention, recovery and enforcement efforts.”

 

February 14, 2018

 

LAWRENCE COUNTY  –  CSX plans to replace railroad ties at two crossings in downtown Louisa. The first work is scheduled February 27- March 3 at the Madison Street crossing near Speedway.

The second crossing, on Jefferson Street at Jackson Brothers Auto, will be done some time in March.

Highway District 12’s Permit Engineer, Jody Hunt, said that message boards will be set up in advance to notify people that the crossings will be closed to traffic. There will also be detour signs that motorists can use to avoid the work zone.

“Oh behalf of CSX, we want to thank people for their patience and understanding during this time,” said Andrea Janka of Safety Services & Supply, a CSX contractor on this job. “We know this is a temporary inconvenience for people, but we also know that the railroad crossings will be much smoother and safer when the work is finished.”