FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP/WKYT) – The Kentucky Senate’s top leader says he will introduce a measure calling for an investigation into the state’s $24 million settlement with the makers of the prescription painkiller OxyContin.
Stivers says Kentucky was “shortchanged” in the Purdue Pharma settlement. Former Attorney General Jack Conway settled the case in late 2015, a few days before he left office.
A call to Conway at his law office was not immediately returned.
Under Stivers’ proposal, an investigating counsel would be hired to conduct the investigation. Stivers says the questions that need answering include why the case was settled days before Conway left office.
The Senate president called the opioid crisis the primary problem in Kentucky. Sister station WKYT reports Stivers asked how Oklahoma was able to get $270 million in a settlement, while Kentucky settled for “pennies on the dollar.”
“As an Eastern Kentuckian and an elected leader of this commonwealth, I am convinced we could have done better. While no amount of money could ever justify the devastation opioids have caused, it can help us implement solutions for the ongoing problems,” Stivers said.
Governor Matt Bevin has criticized the settlement in the past. His opponent, Andy Beshear, used to work for the law firm that represented Purdue Pharma, though he said he had no direct involvement in the case.
Andy Beshear/Coleman Campaign Manager Eric Hyers gave the following statement in response:
“Six weeks before Election Day, this is a shameless political stunt that shows how worried Matt Bevin is about his weak and failing campaign. Andy Beshear played no role in the Purdue settlement whatsoever. In administering the settlement, the office of the attorney general followed the budget instructions passed by Senator Stivers in the legislature and signed by Matt Bevin, as well as the written instructions from Matt Bevin’s administration — and there are even emails to prove it. Andy Beshear has been the most aggressive attorney general in the country when it comes to taking on the big pharmaceutical companies that ravaged our communities. It’s Matt Bevin who has hurt Kentucky families by opposing and delaying Andy’s efforts to hold big drug companies accountable.”