Charleston, WV - Today, West Virginia House of Delegates Minority Leader Tim Miley (D-Harrison) announced his intention to introduce legislation next session intended to strengthen penalties for opioid companies engaged in repeated deceptive and unfair actions. The bill would make it mandatory for the Office of the Attorney General to follow guidelines under the West Virginia Consumer Protection Act and impose a penalty of up to $5,000 per pill where the opioid companies have shown a knowing and willful pattern and practice of unfair and deceptive acts. The proposed legislation would further require the Attorney General to set forth the basis of any proposed settlement to be made with the opioid manufacturer including the identification of each and every unfair and deceptive upon which such proposed settlement is made. Finally, the legislation would also require legislative approval of any settlement with a drug company before the Office of the Attorney General may finalize the settlement agreement on behalf of the state.
Delegate Miley will introduced this legislation in response to the recentlawsuit filed against Attorney General Patrick Morrisey for hiding documents about his relationship with opioid companies. Morrisey has also been accused of mishandling drug company lawsuits. A Charleston Gazette editorial said Morrisey was “woefully negligent” in protecting West Virginians from the opioid crisis.
“Recent events in Charleston have highlighted corruption in state government, and I want these important lawsuits to be free of any political influence,” said Delegate Miley. “This is about accountability. The opioid epidemic is devastating our state, and we need to look at all possible ways to recover as a state and to help our citizens recover," Delegate Miley stated. "Monies recovered from big drug companies that flooded our communities with pills can help fund much needed recovery facilities in communities across our state," he continued. "I want to ensure that these companies aren’t being let off the hook by the Attorney General and that the drug companies are paying for the damage that they have created in West Virginia.”