MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Recently, Delegate Barbara Evans Fleischauer, D-Monongalia, penned a letter to the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) asking for its help to designate the former Mylan Pharmaceuticals plant as critical to the national security infrastructure.
Viatris, the company which owns the plant, announced plans in 2020 to cease all operations no later than July 31, 2021. However, Fleischauer said, that will result in the loss of roughly 1,500 jobs. That is why she wants CISA to step in because once the plant is designated as critical to the national security infrastructure, the planned closure can be avoided.
Pharmaceuticals are critical infrastructure. And if you think about it, we’ve had a lot of shortages during COVID that were related to pharmaceutical products, so and I’m aware of a lot of medications made in India and China that have had recalls — many. And we’re supposed to have the Federal Drug Administration inspect all plants, but obviously, they’re not going to be inspecting any plants in India anytime soon given how serious their COVID problem is. So, I think it’s just totally inconsistent with the president’s order not to designate this plant as critical infrastructure.”Barbara Evans Fleischauer (D – Monongalia, 51)
The president’s order that Fleischauer is referring to is President Biden’s executive order he signed on on Feb. 24, 2021.
In her letter, Fleischauer said “President Biden issued an Executive Order acknowledging the importance of addressing risks to maintaining a secure domestic supply chain for pharmaceuticals and active pharmaceutical ingredients. In that Order and subsequent directives, the pharmaceutical industry is recognized as one of 16 critical infrastructure sectors whose assets, systems and networks are considered so vital to our country that their incapacity or destruction would have a debilitating effect on national security, national public health or safety or any combination thereof. (Presidential Policy Directive, PPD-21).”
If CISA can designate Mylan as a critical infrastructure, not only will jobs be saved, but they will be stopped from going overseas, the Delegate said.
Also, Fleischauer would have accomplished the same thing as the woman from whom she drew inspiration.
U.S. Rep. Diana Harshbarger, R-TN, wrote a letter to CISA to help save a local plant in Bristol, TN. The request was approved and the plant, which specialized in antibiotics, was designated as critical to the national infrastructure, so it avoided closure.
“Your Agency provided a similar designation for the former GSK antibiotic facility located in Bristol Tennessee,” Fleischauer wrote to CISA. “The CISA designation was crucial in rescuing that facility from imminent closure on February 4, 2021.”
To aid her cause, Fleischauer said, she has asked many of her colleagues for help. She is hoping they can help to make a difference and save Mylan.
“I have asked my colleagues in the legislature and in Congress and in the city and the County Commission to join me in this request because I think it’s a way that could work,” Fleischauer said. “We’ve been all trying to think of a way and we’re hoping this might possibly be the way.”
The way to not only save the roughly 1,500 jobs that are directly impacted by a potential closure but also mitigate the ripple effects it could have in the community, Felishauer said.
“These people go to local bars,” she said. “They go to local restaurants. They go to hair salons. All of those industries are going to be affected by the loss of these employees and their families — their spending power.”
Fleischauer said she sees petitioning CISA as a long shot, but she thinks it’s a mission worthy of her and other lawmakers’ efforts.
“I don’t know what the hope is, but this is a real hail mary pass to try to save this plant and I think it makes sense. If they were able to do it with a pharmaceutical plant in Bristol, TN, why can’t that happen in Morgantown, WV? And I hope my colleagues join in with this request,” said Fleischauer.