Tilley testifies in Washington about opioid crisis in Kentucky

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WASHINGTON (AP/WKYT) - Kentucky Justice Secretary John Tilley traveled Washington Thursday to talk about the nation's opioid epidemic.

Tilley testified in front of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.

He was introduced by Senator Rand Paul.

Tilley told senators more money is needed to help solve, what he calls, an opioid pandemic.

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders blamed the problem on drug companies wrongly ensuring doctors that opioid painkillers weren’t addictive, and Sanders asked the panel if those companies should be forced to pay.

WKYT caught up with Tilley after the hearing. "I feel very strongly about this, I absolutely believe that the pharmaceuticals, not only those responsible for these pills, be held accountable," Tilly said. "And we settled with Purdue Pharma for far far far less than the devastation that that wreacked, mainly in Appalachia.”

More than 1,400 people died in Kentucky last year because of a drug overdose, a 7.4 percent increase from 2015. Republican Gov. Matt Bevin's administration has responded with a "Don't Let Them Die" marketing campaign to raise awareness. Earlier this month, Bevin's administration launched a helpline for people to call to get access to the state's drug treatment services.

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