CHARLESTON — Delegate Kayla Kessinger (R-Fayette) and Delegate Andrew Robinson (D-Kanawha) sent a letter to Attorney General Patrick Morrisey to request that his office direct funds from a $37 million settlement with McKesson Corporation agreed to last week to substance use treatment in West Virginia.
“I hope that the Attorney General will invest this money in substance use prevention and treatment efforts in our state,” Kessinger said. “Communities in every part of the state are struggling to fight the effects of the drug epidemic, and they need the help that this funding can provide.”
“The Ryan Brown Addiction Prevention and Recovery Fund provides vital funding for recovery and treatment facilities across West Virginia,” Robinson added. “The money from this settlement can and should be put to use in our communities — communities that have been devastated by the opioid epidemic that has been fueled by excessive, irresponsible shipments of prescription opioids by drug companies like McKesson Corporation.”
West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey announced a settlement with McKesson last Thursday. West Virginia will receive $37 million over several payments until 2024.
Morrisey; Jeff Sandy, secretary of the West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety; and Bill J. Crouch, secretary of the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, were plaintiffs in the lawsuit, filed in Boone County Circuit Court in January 2016.
West Virginia state officials had argued that McKesson, which denies wrongdoing, had been negligent in monitoring pain pill distribution, causing injury to West Virginia resulting from addiction to prescription painkillers.
In 10 months, McKesson, the sixth-largest company in America, sent more than 3 million prescription opioids — nearly 10,000 pills a day on average — to a single pharmacy in Kermit, a town of 400, according to a congressional report cited by the Charleston Gazette-Mail.
Humphreys noted McKesson paid $150 million in 2017 in a settlement that involved several states. That case also set requirements on the company's future behavior.
According to a news release from the United States Department of Justice, the 2017 settlement involving multiple states required McKesson to submit to periodic auditing, stipulated financial penalties for failing to do so, required independent monitoring, and required McKesson to suspend sales of controlled substances from distribution centers in Colorado, Ohio, Michigan and Florida for multiple years.
The only mention of future behavior by McKesson in the West Virginia settlement is a provision that states it will continue its drug diversion program that it is already operating, and that if McKesson sends the West Virginia Board of Pharmacy a suspicious order report, it doesn't object to the Board of Pharmacy sending those notifications to the West Virginia State Police and the West Virginia attorney general.