YORK COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) — Reacting to news that Allegheny County’s district attorney has joined Philadelphia county’s district attorney in suing him over Pennsylvania’s decision in July to accept a billion-dollar settlement from pharmaceutical companies, Shapiro said: “I agree with them.”
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Some critics have said Shapiro sold the commonwealth short by agreeing to a $28 billion multi-state settlement with opioid manufacturers and distributors, of which Pennsylvania’s share is about $1 billion.
Shapiro, speaking to media in York County Wednesday, after meeting with leaders of Pyramid Healthcare about how to spend the settlement money, suggested the lawsuit by the DAs of the state’s two largest counties is about more specific matters than whether the settlement was a good deal for Pennsylvania.
“What they’re effectively arguing in their lawsuit is the attorney general of Pennsylvania does not have the authority to say to a county that they have to settle,” Shapiro said. “I agree.”
In fact, he said individual counties have the option not to join the deal, but they would risk the state getting less and the objecting counties themselves getting nothing.
Defending the settlement, Shapiro reiterated previous remarks that it was a way to get a meaningful amount of money now — rather than spending years litigating and risk getting less later — and that all the money will go toward fighting the opioid epidemic, not other priorities.
Contacted Wednesday by abc27 News, district attorneys and county leaders of Midstate counties including Dauphin, Cumberland, Lebanon, Lancaster and York either said they couldn’t comment on potential litigation or didn’t immediately respond to a question about whether they were considering joining the lawsuit.
The state’s handling of the opioid epidemic could be an issue in next year’s race for governor, and Shapiro is widely believed to be among the most likely Democrats to run but has not yet confirmed any plans.
Asked Wednesday whether he had “any other announcements” to make, Shapiro smiled and said: “I’m happy to be in York County.”
No Democrats have officially announced intentions to run. Seven Republicans have announced their candidacies so far.