Patrick Morrisey’s settlement with a drug company that funneled massive amounts of opioids into West Virginia’s heartland is an insult.
The announcement last week that WV Secretary of State Morrisey had settled a lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug distributor should have come as good news.
But look at what he settled for. McKesson Corporation will pay a penalty of $37 million for shipping nearly 100 million doses of addictive opioids to state residents over a six-year period.
WV Senator Joe Manchin, who is not much of a man to fire his cannons, let Morrisey have it. He disparaged the deal in comments in the New York Times, calling it a “sweetheart deal” that “sells out” the state. “It’s pennies on the dollar to what McKesson cost our state,” Manchin said.
For perspectives’ sake, McKesson reported over $208 billion in revenue in the last fiscal year. So, the settlement amounts to less than one percent of its 2018 revenues.
Teensy Boone County, W.Va., with fewer than 25,000 residents, received 1.2 million doses of hydrocodone and oxycodone between 2007 and 2012, the lawsuit claimed.
The lawsuit alleged the company did not monitor the distribution of painkillers to the state’s pharmacies, “exacerbating the drug epidemic in some of West Virginia’s most vulnerable regions,” as a Charleston Gazette-Mail story described it.
We can see why a McKesson spokesman is “pleased” with the settlement. The spokesman said the company was “pleased that the settlement provides funding toward initiatives intended to address the opioid epidemic.”
What’s not pleasing is the specter of incompetent state officials’ mishandling and mismanagement of the addiction crisis, from start to finish, including seeking rightful compensation for its deadly repercussions.
Manchin did not mince words in a full statement regarding his former Senate opponent’s settlement:
“Last October, I called on [Gov.] Jim Justice to deny the settlement but it appears that he didn’t care enough to fight for the money that West Virginia deserves,” he said.
“I spoke out then and I’m speaking out now that it makes me sick that the very people that are supposed to protect West Virginians are letting a drug distributor screw us over. It makes me sick and I know it makes every West Virginian sick, especially those who have lost someone to this drug epidemic or knows someone who is struggling with drug addiction now. This disgraceful settlement is a shameful injustice to us all.”
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