Viatris interested in transferring idled plant to WVU

Viatris and WVU are working toward a memorandum of understanding that would transfer control of Viatris’ recently closed pharmaceutical production plant in Morgantown to the university.

Viatris Executive Chairman Robert Coury released a statement Wednesday explaining the move.

“Given the present landscape, when thinking about responsible new stewards for the site, as well as its strategic location, future potential uses, and the possibility for job creation opportunities in the short, medium and long term for Morgantown and its surrounding areas, we determined that pursuing formal discussions at this time with WVU and its affiliates is the absolute right next step to consider,” Coury said. “This is especially true given that we remain and intend to continue to remain a significant employer in Morgantown, including at our world-class global center of excellence for Research and Development.”

Viatris, which is the new company formed after a merger involving Mylan, announced the plant’s closure last December. It was shuttered July 31 with approximately 1,500 people losing their jobs. Coury also said in Wednesday’s statement the company has been trying to find a buyer but has come up empty.

“We believe that the same industry and market dynamics that prompted our decision have resulted in no such viable proposals being received to date,” Coury said.

Gov. Jim Justice applauded the possible MOU in comments he made during Wednesday’s coronavirus media briefing at the state capitol. Justice said WVU will work with the state to try and bring a new business or businesses to the plant.

“WVU will work collaboratively with the Department of Economic Development and find potential companies to use this space,” Justice said.

Coury said an agreement with WVU makes sense considering the long relationship Mylan co-founder Mike Puskar had with the university.

“I also know and have witnessed firsthand the love and the respect (Puskar) had for West Virginia University and the tremendous support that he, Mylan and its employees have provided to this critical and highly regarded institution throughout the years. With that in mind, it only seems fitting that we pursue discussions with the University and its affiliates as we continue to seek the best possible solution for the site outside of the Viatris network that is in the best interest of the community and all of its stakeholders,” Coury said.

Justice said it was a “great announcement” but acknowledged there’s still work to do.

“We still got a long ways to go to turn that into real employment for these great employees who were doing such good work,” Justice said. “We want them to have high-paying great jobs and we’ll keep trying every way we can to pull that off.”