CHARLESTON, W.Va. - A bipartisan coalition from the West Virginia House of Delegates today called on state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey to hold all funds his office will receive from the recent McKesson Corporation drug settlement so those monies may be appropriated by the Legislature for use to combat the state’s drug epidemic.
Delegates making this request include Mark Dean, R-Mingo; Kayla Kessinger, R-Fayette; Chad Lovejoy, D-Cabell; Matthew Rohrbach, R-Cabell; and Andrew Robinson, D-Kanawha.
“Recently released data shows 38,269,630 prescription pain pills were shipped to my district in Mingo County alone,” Delegate Dean said. “The repercussions from those deliveries are felt everyday by my constituents. The settlement monies received by our state from those who made these deliveries should be dedicated to helping our communities recover.”
The Office of the Attorney General will receive roughly $3.2 million from the first installment of the McKesson Corporation settlement, and approximately $1.5 million annually from 2020 to 2024.
“Our state has been devastated by millions of pills being delivered directly to our communities, and it is imperative that we use funds paid by these companies to correct the damage they have caused,” Delegate Kessinger said.
Delegates Kessinger and Robinson made an identical request of the Attorney General earlier this year. The delegates have yet to receive a response from the Attorney General or any indication their May 2019 letter has been reviewed by his office.
“Huntington has been considered ‘Ground Zero’ of the drug epidemic,” said Delegate Rohrbach, Chairman of the House of Delegate’s Committee on Prevention and Treatment of Substance Abuse. “If we ensure funds that are received as a direct result of the drug epidemic are dedicated to prevention and recovery, we will also be able to move past this epidemic and regain control of our communities.”
“West Virginia’s first responders have been on the front lines of the drug epidemic — fighting overdose, criminal activity and even risking personal injury in this battle,” Delegate Lovejoy said. “My hope is that our Attorney General takes our first responders into account and ensures these settlement funds are used to help them as they combat the drug scourge in our neighborhoods.”
The Attorney General stated recently, in an opinion piece printed in the Charleston Gazette-Mail, that $84 million in drug settlements has been received by the State of West Virginia. However, it is estimated by The American Enterprise Institute that the drug epidemic has cost West Virginia $8.8 billion annually.
“We can brag about ‘turning the tide’ on addiction, but that is simply not the truth,” Delegate Robinson said. “Addiction has infiltrated every part of our state, and letting millions of dollars be spent on administrative costs is simply irresponsible. We urge the Attorney General to reserve every penny of these settlements, so we can truly offer opportunities for recovery to our constituents.”
During this year’s regular legislative session, the House of Delegates passed House Bill 2991, which would have required funds received by the Attorney General from settlements negotiated with drug manufacturers, wholesalers or retailer be placed in the Ryan Brown Addiction Prevention and Recovery Fund. While the bill passed the House with overwhelming bipartisan support, it did not advance out of the state Senate before the end of the regular session.
A copy of the Delegates’ letter to Attorney General Patrick Morrisey can be viewed here.