$32 million of drug company settlement money pegged for drug treatment in Kentucky

01/06/2014 06:20 PM

Top-ranking Kentucky Democrats announced Monday they plan to use $32 million in settlements with two pharmaceutical companies to expand substance abuse treatment, including opiate addictions.

Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway announced on Monday, along with Gov. Steve Beshear, first lady Jane Beshear, and House Speaker Greg Stumbo that the settlement will allow the state to increase access to treatment.

“It’s not just enough to be tough on drugs, you have to be smart, Conway said. He added, “being smart includes increased education and also increased treatment.”

The $32 million comes from the settlement of lawsuits Conway brought against Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp. for failing to disclose that taking Vioxx raised to risk of heart attacks and GlaxoSmithKline for failing to disclose that patients taking its diabetes drug, Avandia, were at a higher risk for a cardiovascular event.

Of the funds, Beshear and Conway want $19 million to go toward grant programs for youth treatment across Kentucky. Beshear said the rest of the money will cover:

- $500,000 to complete construction of a Recovery Education Center in Boyd County where addicts work together to get and stay sober. – $2.52 million in scholarships for individuals who seek treatment at one of the 17 Recovery Kentucky Centers, but are not in a state corrections center. – $560,000 will be used to create 14 drug-free homes for people completing and transitioning out of residential substance abuse programs. – $6 million to upgrade KASPER, Kentucky’s electronic prescription drug monitoring program – $1 million to support substance abuse for pregnant women by Chrysalis House in Lexington and Independence House in Corbin – $1.5 million to the University of Kentucky to develop best practices for juvenile substance abuse treatment providers – $1 million to develop school-based substance abuse screening tool with the Kentucky Department of Education to intervene with at-risk children before they enter judicial or social service systems.

“In tough economic times like these, we need to continue finding innovative ways to fund critical services,” Beshear said.

One person who was not at Monday’s press conference was Senate President Robert Stivers.

Stivers said he agress the drug programs are worthwhile. But he said he is concerned the governor’s decision about how to spend the settlement erodes legislative powers. He pointed to KRS 48.005, a statute which states that the General Assembly has the authority to designate where recovered monies should go.

“What they use the money on are legitimate and valid uses. What I think is, we have a statue in place and it should have been something that the legislature should have made the final decision,” said Stivers.

Stivers says that it’s not something that he plans to file any legislation on this session, but he couldn’t support the way it was decided.


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