The Democrat hoping to win another stint as attorney general in next week’s election says he will continue to hold the pharmaceutical industry accountable in court for contributing to Kentucky’s opioid crisis.
Greg Stumbo told the Bowling Green Noon Rotary Club on Wednesday that he wants to finish what he started. As Kentucky’s former attorney general from 2004-2008, he brought a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma which his successor Jack Conway settled for $24 million.
Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers announced last month that he would file a resolution in the 2020 session seeking an investigation into the settlement. Stivers thinks Kentucky didn't get as much money as it could have from the drug maker, but Stumbo says the settlement was a record at the time.
Stumbo is now in private practice and his firm has a contract with current attorney Attorney General Andy Beshear to assist with opioid litigation. He has helped file nine lawsuits against drug manufacturers and distributors, all of which are pending.
Stumbo says he thinks Kentucky’s cases are stronger than the one that went to trial this summer in Oklahoma that resulted in a $572 million verdict against Johnson and Johnson. Stumbo says he would seek judgments of $4.5 to $5 billion in the commonwealth's cases.
If elected next week to another term as AG, the Prestonsburg Democrat says he’ll also consider criminal charges against drug company executives.
“If you look at the number of deaths occurring, that’s a mass murder if you think about it," Stumbo commented. “If we had anything else that was killing 30 to 50 Kentuckians a week, there would be all sorts of police investigations, but nobody’s really looked at the criminal aspect of their conduct.”
From 2006 to 2012, two billion Oxycodone pills alone were funneled into Kentucky, according to recently unsealed court records. Stumbo says the state can’t incarcerate itself out of the opioid crisis. He thinks criminal charges should be reserved for company executives while addicts receive treatment and other support services.
Stumbo also announced his support for medical marijuana in Kentucky not just to help with certain illnesses, but as a tool in the fight against prescription drug abuse. He said in states that have legalized medical marijuana, the rate of opioid use has decreased around 30%.
Stumbo served in the Kentucky House for 32 years, including nine years as House Speaker before losing re-election in 2016.
Stumbo is running against Republican Daniel Cameron, a Louisville attorney who formerly served as general counsel to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Both men have received high-profile endorsements. Cameron has the support of President Donald Trump while Hilary Clinton has endorsed Stumbo.