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Rep. David McKinley asks CISA to grant Viatris Morgantown plant critical infrastructure status

MORGANTOWN – Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., has joined the chorus of voices seeking federal intervention to keep Viatris’ Morgantown pharmaceutical plant open beyond its scheduled July 31 closure.

Also, Viatris provided a statement regarding negative comments about President Rajiv Malik that a coalition of 40 groups made in a Wednesday letter to President Biden.

The progressive organization Our Revolution teamed with the other organizations to urge Biden to invoke the Defense Production Act to keep the Morgantown plant operating as a matter of national security.

The letter included allegations about Malik.

Viatris said Thursday, “Rajiv Malik has never ‘been cited in the past for altering safety and production data.’ Any statement to the contrary is demonstrably false and misleading.”

McKinley sent a letter on Wednesday to U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Director Jen Easterly asking her to designate the plant as critical infrastructure needed to maintain national security and to designate its employees as essential workers.

He references the letter Delegate Barbara Evans Fleischauer, D-Monongalia, sent to CISA on Monday making the same request.

“This letter raises important points and I hope to discuss what authority the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency has to help this plant and its employees,” McKinley wrote.

He recounts the merger of Mylan and Upjohn into Viatris and the subsequent closure announcement made as part of Viatris’ global restructuring plan.

“The closing of the Viatris facility is another example of America losing critical infrastructure to overseas competition,” McKinley wrote. “President Biden has made preserving the domestic supply chain for finished pharmaceuticals as well active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) a priority in his administration as evidenced by his February 2021 executive order.”

The Morgantown plant has experience manufacturing some of the nation’s most commonly used antibiotics, he said. “America cannot afford to lose the manufacturing capacity as well as the intellectual property and institutional knowledge of the Mylan employees.”

The pending closure threatens national security and public health interests, he wrote.

“We are requesting that you examine all tools at your disposal to protect this piece of critical infrastructure. Thank you for your swift attention to this matter.”

The Dominion Post asked McKinley for comment on the reason for his letter. He said in an email exchange, “The Mylan plant is critical to Morgantown and the entire region. The loss of 1,500 highly skilled jobs will hit the region hard, but in the bigger picture this is also about preserving a domestic supply chain for prescription drug manufacturing.

“One of the lessons that we have learned from the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said, “is that we need to ensure we have the ability and infrastructure to produce vital, life-saving drugs here in America, instead of relying on foreign nations. We need to exhaust every option available to preserve this plant.”

The Dominion Post also contacted Sens. Shelley Moore Capito and Joe Manchin for their thoughts on the letters that have gone out and asked if they plan to add their voices or take other action. Both were copied on both letters.

Capito’s office said she has seen the Fleischauer letter and as ranking member of the Senate Homeland Appropriations Subcommittee, the office has reached out to CISA to get a sense if the designation is something that can be done.

Capito said in an email exchange, “We’ve been working with the leaders in Morgantown and some of the leaders of the former Mylan facility to try to repurpose and find a good solution here for the hundreds of people losing their jobs. We know this is a real tragedy for Morgantown and for their families.”

“The president is aware of it,” she said. “We’ve been trying to work with WVU and some of the other communities to try to find some way to make this situation better. Our office, including myself, have been in constant contact with both the union folks, and community and economic development leaders. It’s very difficult for those deeply affected, but it’s also difficult to figure out the best way to reinvigorate that facility.”

Manchin said in an email, “This plant is a world-class facility and one of the largest oral solid dose manufacturing facilities in the world. For months, I have engaged in conversations with Viatris, Monongalia County, the Morgantown Area Partnership, and local and state leaders to find a solution that protects every single job.”

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