Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia slammed pharmaceutical companies on Thursday, arguing they should be held legally liable for their role in the ongoing opioid crisis.
"This is a business plan. They are liable," Manchin told CNN's Jake Tapper on "The Lead" when asked if he believes the pharmaceutical industry needs to be found legally liable in some cases for the prevalence of opioids in the United States.
Manchin added that the companies that supply opioids should be charged fees for the drugs they produce and for having inundated the market with the highly addictive drugs.
"This is what's caused it. Can't we at least charge the pharmaceutical companies one penny per milligram for every opiate they produce?" Manchin added.
President Donald Trump earlier Thursday declared a nationwide public health emergency to address the ongoing opioid epidemic. Manchin said that declaration is of the utmost importance.
"Every state's been affected," he said of the crisis. "I'm ground zero, West Virginia, more deaths per capita, more people addicted per capita."
More funding is needed to combat the crisis, he said.
"This is like fighting a war," Manchin said about the need for funding. "You've got your soldiers on the front line fighting ... (but) your guys on the front line run out of bullets."