Darrell "Quick Draw" McGraw is at it again. This time, he's flaunting his authority as the state's attorney general to stick it to the major drugstore chains in West Virginia.
McGraw and five Charleston attorneys have filed class action lawsuits against Rite-Aid, CVS, Walgreen's, Walmart, Kmart, Kroger and Target, accusing them of overcharging for generic drugs and violating state consumer protection law.
"Just give us some money and nobody gets hurt," say the six law-slingers.
Nobody, that is, but the citizens of West Virginia.
If McGraw and his gang make off with millions, the drugstore chains will have to raise prices to recover the costs of settling the case so they go away.
McGraw's played the part of a highwayman for years, but his luck may be running out. When the fastest gun in West Virginia went up against major drug companies, he outdrew them in court, but he's not faring as well in a shootout with the federal government.
The feds got the drop on Quick Draw, threatening to withhold half a million dollars in state Medicaid funding as their share of his $850,000 settlement with pharmaceuticals manufacturer Dey Inc. Quick Draw's other settlements may be similarly dissipated.
In the meantime, we're paying the price for his outlandish behavior. Our choices as consumers are being restricted, and the unfavorable business climate in our economically troubled state is getting worse.
If the prices for generic drugs seem too high at one outlet, we can always shop around and find a better deal. How hard is that?
Is Attorney General McGraw looking out for our best interests, or just his own? Do we really need Quick Draw to intervene in our transactions with drugstore chains?
And it begs more questions for local business: where will he choose to intervene next? At the gas station? At the grocery store? Will he claim that prices are too high everywhere and drive prices higher with his endless lawsuits? Have we even asked for his help? Can we afford it?
It may be time for the good people of West Virginia to raise a posse.