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Rutledge: Opioid Awareness Public Service Announcement Launched

Rutledge: Opioid Awareness Public Service Announcement Launched

Mon, Nov 4, 2019

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today released a statewide public service announcement (PSA) addressing the opioid epidemic that continues to devastate Arkansas. Rutledge has been a leader in the State and the nation combating the opioid epidemic by using a multifaceted approach of education, litigation, treatment and enforcement.

“Opioids kill hundreds of Arkansans every year tearing families apart and devastating communities,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “On average there are 62 pills for every man, woman and child in the State. Together let’s educate everyone, enforce the laws and end this epidemic. After all, Arkansas is just one big small town.”

Rutledge has taken an aggressive approach to protect Arkansans and combat the epidemic by suing manufacturers Johnson & Johnson, Purdue Pharma and Endo for violations of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (ADTPA) and the Arkansas Medicaid Fraud False Claims Act. In April 2019, Rutledge filed a separate lawsuit against distributors Cardinal Health, McKesson Corporation and AmerisourceBergen Drug Corporation for violations of the ADTPA as well as for negligence, creation of a public nuisance and being unjustly enriched by their business practices.

On the educational front, Rutledge’s first-in-the-nation Prescription for Life program is free for high schools and has reached 69 counties and almost 17,000 students. On November 14, Attorney General Rutledge will host the eighth annual Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Summit at the Hot Springs Convention Center. The free event provides training and educational opportunities for law enforcement, medical professionals, pharmacists and educators. Attendees will hear from former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie who is keynoting the luncheon.

The public service announcement can be viewed on various networks and cable stations throughout the State and can be found on Rutledge’s YouTube page.

Arkansans who have questions can email the office at oag@ArkansasAG.gov or call (800) 482-8982.

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Rutledge Reaches Almost 10,000 Arkansans in Their Communities

Rutledge Reaches Almost 10,000 Arkansans in Their Communities

Thu, Oct 31, 2019

Says, ‘opportunity to have authentic face-to-face conversations with Arkansans in their hometowns’

EL DORADO – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today completed the final Rutledge Roundtable of 2019 with community leaders from Union County. The event concluded the fifth consecutive year Rutledge hosted roundtable meetings as well as mobile offices in all 75 counties around the State, connecting individually with nearly 10,000 Arkansans.

“Visiting all 75 counties yearly is an opportunity to have authentic face-to-face conversations with Arkansans in their hometowns,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Meeting people where they live helps to truly understand the many issues communities are facing, whether it’s the vaping epidemic in our schools, overcrowding in our prisons or regulations stifling economic growth.”

Since taking office in 2015, Rutledge has hosted 384 Roundtables with over 4,300 participants. Each meeting has included officials from local businesses, local and State government, farmers, faith leaders, educators and representatives from various other industries.

In addition to the Roundtables, Rutledge had a record year in 2019 with 2,232 Arkansans visiting an Attorney General Mobile Office throughout the State. The mobile office initiative was created in 2015 to provide a county-by-county location to personally assist consumers in filing consumer complaints and answer questions about the full range of services provided by the Attorney General’s Office. After the success of the initiative in 2015, Rutledge expanded to include Prescription Drug Take Back boxes during each visit. The office collaborates with local law enforcement agencies across the State to handle a secure box and properly dispose of the prescriptions collected. Since the addition of this service, the boxes have allowed authorities to properly dispose of nearly 620 pounds of old or unused medications.

For more information about services provided by the Attorney General’s Office, visit ArkansasAG.gov or call (800) 482-8982.

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Rutledge Urges Congress to Pass Act Giving Law Enforcement Ability to Locate Cell Phones of Victims in Grave Danger

Rutledge Urges Congress to Pass Act Giving Law Enforcement Ability to Locate Cell Phones of Victims in Grave Danger

Wed, Oct 30, 2019

Rutledge Urges Congress to Pass Act Giving Law Enforcement Ability to Locate Cell Phones of Victims in Grave Danger

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is urging Congress to enact the Kelsey Smith Act. The legislation will provide law enforcement officers nationwide with the ability to locate the cell phones of individuals believed to be in serious danger of bodily harm or death.

“We must give our law enforcement the tools they need to keep our communities safe especially when our loved ones are in grave danger,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Arkansas and Kansas were both early adopters of the Kelsey Smith Act, which gave law enforcement the rapid response resources to quickly locate victims’ cell phones during an emergency when their lives are at risk.”

Rutledge and Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt jointly sent a letter urging the Kelsey Smith Act’s passage to the U. S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation and the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce. The legislation is sponsored by Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and Rep. Ron Estes, R-Kan. and would require cell phone providers to turn over geographic location information to law enforcement officers in emergency situations.

Currently, no emergency location requirement exists in federal law, and cell phone providers are free to withhold the information absent a state requirement. Kansas and Arkansas are two of 24 states that have adopted versions of the law at the state level.

The bill draws its title from the case of 18-year-old Kelsey Smith, who was raped and murdered after being abducted in broad daylight outside a big-box retail store in Overland Park in 2007. Law enforcement officials and Smith’s family requested her cell service provider disclose geographic coordinates, but were denied for several days absent a legal requirement to compel the information. Eventually, the provider agreed to turn over the coordinates and law enforcement found Smith’s body within 45 minutes about 20 miles from where she was abducted.

For more information, a copy of the letter can be viewed here.

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Rutledge Statement on Passing of State Representative John Walker

Rutledge Statement on Passing of State Representative John Walker

Mon, Oct 28, 2019

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued the following statement after the announcement of the death of long-time civil rights activist and Arkansas Representative John Walker.

“I was saddened to learn of the passing of Representative Walker,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Representative Walker was a tireless advocate on behalf of his clients and constituents, leaving a strong and lasting legacy with the State. He was also a man of deep faith, and I pray that faith gives comfort to his loved ones during this difficult time.”

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$700 Million International Pharmaceutical Company Settlement Reached

$700 Million International Pharmaceutical Company Settlement Reached

Thu, Oct 24, 2019

Says ‘This corporation has double-dipped the Medicaid system by deceptively advertising to physicians’

LITTLE ROCK - Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced Arkansas has reached a multistate agreement in principle with the pharmaceutical distributor Reckitt Benckiser Group (Reckitt). The agreement settles allegations that the company improperly marketed or otherwise promoted the drug Suboxone, resulting in improper expenditures of state Medicaid funds.

“Arkansans have suffered enough at the hands of opioid distributors like Reckitt,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “This corporation has double-dipped the Medicaid system by deceptively advertising to physicians that Suboxone is safe, and subsequently received Medicaid reimbursements for the falsely-marketed drug.”

The England-based company had, until December 23, 2014, a subsidiary named Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (RPI). RPI distributed, marketed and sold Suboxone in the United States. The drug contains a combination of buprenorphine (an opioid) and naloxone (an opioid antagonist) and was approved to suppress opioid withdrawal symptoms as part of a complete treatment plan to include counseling and psychosocial support. Used alone however, this drug has resulted in opioid addiction.

Reckitt will pay a total of $700 million dollars in resolution of various civil fraud allegations impacting Medicaid and other government healthcare programs, of which more than $400 million will go into the Medicaid program. The total Medicaid settlement for Arkansas is $462,948.97.

Additionally, Reckitt will enter into a separate non-prosecution agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Virginia and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Consumer Protection Branch.

The federal and state civil settlements will resolve the following allegations:

  • That Reckitt directly or through its subsidiaries knowingly promoted the sale and use of Suboxone to physicians who were writing prescriptions:
    • To patients without any counseling or psychosocial support
    • For uses that were unsafe, ineffective, and medically unnecessary
  • That Reckitt directly or through its subsidiaries knowingly promoted the sale or use of Suboxone Sublingual Film based on:
    • False and misleading claims that Suboxone Sublingual Film was less subject to diversion and abuse than other buprenorphine products
    • Suboxone Sublingual Film was less susceptible to accidental pediatric exposure than Suboxone Sublingual Tablets. Physicians relied on these false and misleading claims in prescribing Suboxone Sublingual Film, and state Medicaid agencies relied on these false and misleading claims in making authorization decisions.
  • That Reckitt directly or through its subsidiaries knowingly submitted a petition to the Food and Drug Administration on September 25, 2012, fraudulently claiming that Suboxone Sublingual Tablet had been discontinued “due to safety concerns” about the tablet formulation of the drug and took other steps to fraudulently delay the entry of generic competition for various forms of Suboxone in order to improperly control pricing of Suboxone, including pricing to federal healthcare programs.

To submit a consumer complaint or learn more about Medicaid fraud-related issues, contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s office at (800) 482-8982, email consumer@arkansasag.gov or visit ArkansasAG.gov.

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Rutledge Holds Office Hours in all 75 Counties Serving Thousands in Person

Rutledge Holds Office Hours in all 75 Counties Serving Thousands in Person

Wed, Oct 23, 2019

Says, ‘Meeting people where they are and as they are’

MOUNT IDA – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge held office hours in Montgomery County yesterday, concluding record attendance for the fifth consecutive year as she has hosted mobile offices in all 75 counties.

“Meeting people where they are and as they are is a priority of mine,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Filing a complaint against a bad business or getting information to make the right decision for the longterm care of a loved one should not require an all day trip to our offices in Little Rock or Northwest Arkansas but rather we will come to you and do the fighting for you.”

In 2019, 2,232 Arkansans visited an Attorney General Mobile Office. Mobile offices provide a county-by-county location to personally assist consumers in filing consumer complaints and answer questions about the full range of services provided by the Attorney General’s Office.

Attorney General Rutledge created the mobile office initiative in May 2015 so that her office and staff would be accessible to everyone. After the success of the initiative in 2015, Rutledge expanded to include Prescription Drug Take Back boxes during each visit. The office collaborates with local law enforcement agencies across the State to handle a secure box and properly dispose of the prescriptions collected. Since the addition of this service, the boxes have allowed authorities to properly dispose of nearly 620 pounds of old or unused medications.

For more information about services provided by the Attorney General’s Office, visit ArkansasAG.gov or call (800) 482-8982.

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