Politics & Government

Kentucky to get nearly $40 million from settlements with two drug companies

Attorney General Andy Beshear announced two settlements Wednesday totaling $39.7 million to benefit the state’s Medicaid program and General Fund, which pays for most state programs.

In a news conference in his Capitol office, Beshear said his office has recovered $22.7 million in state and federal Medicaid dollars in a settlement with Reckitt, headquartered in the United Kingdom, for its improper marketing and promotion of the drug Suboxone.

Suboxone is supposed to be used to help recovering opioid addicts reduce withdrawal symptoms while they undergo treatment. Without proper counseling, the drug can be improperly used, resulting in more addiction and devastation, said Beshear.

Beshear said Reckitt agreed to pay the federal government and states $700 million to resolve various civil fraud allegations affecting Medicaid and other government health care programs and forfeit $647 million in profits and pay the Federal Trade Commission $50 million.

The federal government has said the total $1.4 billion settlement is the largest ever for a case involving an opioid drug.

Beshear said Kentucky’s portion of the settlement was based on usage of the drug in the state.

Beshear also said Kentucky has reached a $17 million settlement with Bayer Corp., a U.S. subsidiary of German-based Bayer AG, over claims that it misled Kentucky women about risks associated with its birth control drugs, Yasmin and Yaz.

The settlement with Bayer resolves a 2013 lawsuit brought by former Attorney General Jack Conway and continued by Beshear.

The suit alleged from 2007 to 2012, and again after 2015, Bayer failed to provide accurate marketing information to women about scientific evidence that indicated the two drugs created a higher risk for blood clots compared to similar contraceptives.

After litigation fees are paid, Beshear said, the Kentucky General Assembly will appropriate the funds through the state’s next two-year budget. He suggested the money should be used to help Kentuckians access affordable health care and address other public health needs.

Beshear also said Kentuckians who think they may have been been harmed should seek a private attorney. Bayer has settled thousands of cases with women who suffered injuries from blood clots after taking its drug.

Beshear’s office has nine lawsuits pending against makers and distributors of opioid drugs.

Jack Brammer is Frankfort bureau chief for the Lexington Herald-Leader. He has covered politics and government in Kentucky since May 1978. He has a Master’s in communications from the University of Kentucky and is a native of Maysville, Ky.
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