An eastern Kentucky official has announced a settlement in a lawsuit over the drug OxyContin.
The Appalachian News-Express cited a statement from Pike Judge-Executive Wayne T. Rutherford in reporting that drug maker Purdue Pharma agreed to pay $4 million to settle a lawsuit over abuse of the narcotic.
Rutherford said he couldn't give further details about the settlement due to terms of the agreement.
The county initially filed the lawsuit in 2007 and asked for damages the community suffered after the company marketed OxyContin as a safer alternative to other pain medicine.
The drug became so pervasive in eastern Kentucky, it was dubbed "hillbilly heroin."
Rutherford indicated in the statement that he was pleased with terms of the settlement.
"Finally, Pike County Government will have the funds to make a difference in drug addiction," Rutherford said. "We can now establish the Pike County Re-Entry Partnership for people convicted of drug violations. It has taken years to get done. Our attorney, Gary C. Johnson, was passionate and brought this about."
The goal of the Pike County Re-Entry Partnership would be to rehabilitate people who are addicted to drugs.
Much-called-for changes to Kentucky's prescription drug law are on their way to the governor.
The Senate on Monday passed the final version of a bill that would loosen the law's restrictions to accommodate the seriously ill and elderly, groups that were subjected to the same scrutiny as would-be prescription drug traffickers. The vote was 36-0. The House passed the proposal last week.
The law requires doctors, dentists, optometrists, registered nurses and podiatrists to check their patients' drug histories on the state's prescription monitoring system, known as KASPER, before writing prescriptions. The bill's changes would exempt patients in hospitals and hospital care as well as people receiving cancer treatment, among others.
"This just went back to some practical common sense things," Senate President Robert Stivers told reporters after the vote.
A man who owned pain clinics in Florida and Ohio has pleaded guilty in Kentucky to a federal charge of conspiracy to launder money. The U.S. Attorney's office said in a statement that 38-year-old Jody L. Robinson of Portsmouth, Ohio, entered the plea in federal court in Covington.
Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear is encouraging his peers to join him in fighting prescription pill abuse. Beshear sent that message Tuesday at a prescription pill conference in Florida sponsored by Operation UNITE.