FRANKFORT, KY (WFIE) - Kentucky's Attorney General Andy Beshear is following through on his promise to the families who have lost loved ones to opioid overdoses with a lawsuit.
Beshear says last year, 191 people died in Kentucky from overdosing on the prescription drug called Opana ER. Beshear says it is more than three times stronger than morphine.
Opana ER is manufactured by Endo Pharmaceuticals. In his lawsuit announcement Monday afternoon, Beshear said Opana ER was being prescribed for pains like back problems, arthritis, and even headaches. He says many of the overdose victims were service members or veterans.
"Even though they knew their opioid products were addictive and possibly lethal, Endo forged ahead with a marketing plan targeting doctors and patients to build a bigger market. And build it they did to a tune of record profits," says Beshear.
Beshear says Endo turned its back on the abuse of its drug that's putting dozens of Kentucky counties at risk for an HIV outbreak. He also says the company has not given any money to help fight the epidemic.
Beshear says, "Our biggest challenge, our biggest threat to this state is our addiction epidemic. It's the single greatest threat to the lives of our people. We have a record number of children in foster care or kinship care because drugs have taken their parents."
In response to Beshear, Endo made the following statement:
"It is Endo's policy not to comment on ongoing litigation. That said, Matthew J. Maletta, Endo's Executive Vice President and Chief Legal Officer, noted that "the public statement made by Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear today in connection with filing suit against Endo that this organization and its dedicated employees seek to 'line their pockets at the expense of communities' is patently offensive. We intend to vigorously defend the Company against the claims set forth in this lawsuit."
The FDA requested in June that Endo remove the drug from the market. The company pulled the drug a month later.
Emily Walden lost her son to an Opana ER overdose in 2012. Walden says, "It is time that Endo pay for their actions that have led to the death and destruction throughout Kentucky and across our entire country."