CHARLESTON, W.Va. — U.S. Senator Joe Manchin is calling on Gov. Jim Justice to step in and stop a settlement that state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has negotiated with prescription drug distributor McKesson Corporation.
Manchin, who will face Morrisey in two weeks in the Nov. 6 General Election, said during an appearance Tuesday on MetroNews “Talkline” that Morrisey is getting ready to sign-off on a settlement for $35 million. Manchin said that’s not even enough to help the state for one year of what the opioid epidemic costs.
“For the sake of the State of West Virginia please don’t do this deal,” Manchin said. “We can’t pick up all this cost and if we pick up all this costs we’re going to be basically detrimental to all of the other services that people are depending on.”
Manchin said McKesson, which brings in $500 million in revenue, has a board meeting scheduled for Thursday to talk about the settlement. He said Morrisey has a news conference scheduled for Friday to hail it.
When contacted Tuesday, Morrisey’s office said there’s no settlement and no news conference scheduled.
“We have no offer from McKesson. None,” Chief Deputy Attorney General Anthony Martin told MetroNews “Talkline” Host Hoppy Kercheval in an email. “Morrisey has absolutely nothing to do with this case.”
In a statement released later, Martin added.
“Anything said to the contrary is utterly dishonest and furthermore ignores that within hours of its filing, Attorney General Morrisey voluntarily recused himself from the McKesson matter and has not been involved in the case since.”
Manchin said McKeeson knows Morrisey will accept the $35 million, He said Gov. Jim Justice could stop it.
“Gov. Justice, please, I’m imploring you,” Manchin said. “I’ve set in your seat before. I know the power you have. Please, jump in and stop this horrible, horrible settlement for the people of West Virginia because it’s going to affect us for a long time.”
Manchin said $35 million won’t get close to what the opioid crisis costs the state each year, an estimated $291 million.
“Patrick says, ‘Look what a great settlement.’ The governor is the only person at this time because I can assure you Morrisey will not step in to do anything right now,” Manchin said.
Martin said Morrisey has been a leader in fighting the opioid epidemic, citing a 2017 settlement with 12 prescription drug wholesalers.
“The greater than $47 million settlement received approval from then-Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, a Democrat, the state’s top law enforcement and health leaders; and the state’s team of outside attorneys, all of whom had litigated that case for more than four years and are committed to the same level of vigorous investigation and litigation in relation to McKesson so as to secure the best possible outcome for our citizens. The devastation brought upon our state demands nothing less,” Martin said.
Morrisey for Senate spokesman Nathan Brand called the Manchin’s Tuesday announcement ” a desperate political stunt.”