Politics

Attorney General Andy Beshear has asked Kentucky’s public pension systems to stop investing in companies that he says are fueling the opioid addiction epidemic in the state.

Beshear is suing six companies that distribute or manufacture pain pills and says that the state’s retirement agencies should stop sending taxpayer dollars to the companies.

“As Kentucky families were being devastated by addiction, these companies were making billions in profits,” Beshear said in a statement. “By depriving these companies of our state funds Kentucky is sending a loud and clear message that our families come before opioid drug profits.”

Beshear sent the requests to the leaders of the state’s two main pension agencies —Kentucky Teachers Retirement System and Kentucky Retirement Systems.

In an emailed statement, Beshear’s office said that KRS had more than $38 million invested in the six opioid companies and that KTRS had more than $1 million invested.

Beshear said he would send similar requests to other Kentucky agencies that have invested in opioid companies.

Dave Eager, executive director of Kentucky Retirement Systems, said Beshear’s request would likely come up during a meeting of the agency’s investment committee next week.

“Because of the nature of it, the investment committee will review the request,” Eager said. “It’s a policy issue and it would have to be the investment committee recommending to the board.”

Last week, Beshear filed a lawsuit against Walgreens, alleging that the company fueled opioid addiction in Kentucky by failing to monitor large shipments of pain pills in the state.

Over the last year, Beshear has filed lawsuits against six other companies that manufacture or distribute opioids — Johnson & Johnson, AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, McKesson and Endo Pharmaceuticals.

Ryland Barton is the Capitol bureau chief for Kentucky Public Radio.