Arizona Health Department Uses Major Vaccine Distributor’s Board Director to Convince Parents on COVID-19 Vaccine

Arizona Health Department Uses Major Vaccine Distributor’s Board Director to Convince Parents on COVID-19 Vaccine

By Corinne Murdock |

The Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) announced an informational panel convincing parents to vaccinate their children featuring Dr. Richard Carmona: a board of directors member for McKesson, a major distributor of the COVID-19 vaccine. The press release failed to mention Carmona’s membership on McKesson’s board. Carmona didn’t mention his director role during the virtual town hall, either. ADHS only identified Carmona as the former U.S. Surgeon General and Governor Doug Ducey’s special advisor for public health emergency preparedness. Ducey appointed Carmona to that role in August.

McKesson also made big moves with top Arizona officials in August, though not of the positive sort. Prior to Ducey’s appointment of Carmona, McKesson and several other major pharmaceutical companies reached a tentative $26 billion settlement with Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich over their role in the opioid crisis. Johnson & Johnson was also part of that settlement. Carmona wasn’t a director for McKesson at the time. About two weeks after the tentative settlement and Ducey’s appointment of Carmona as his special advisor for public health emergency preparedness, McKesson elected Carmona to their board and appointed him to their Compensation and Compliance Committees.

During the ADHS virtual town hall, Carmona claimed that the vaccine was safe because independent scientists have concluded as such. He promised that there was “very little risk, if any” for a child receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.

“The emergency use authorization tells you that scientists independently have studied this, validated it and feel that this vaccine is efficacious – meaning it works – and that it does no harm,” said Carmona.

Carmona said that parents should vaccinate their children not because COVID-19 poses a serious harm to them but “because it is a vaccinatable disease” and that it’s just what parents always do for any other vaccinatable disease.

“The science is sound. The science tells us this is the right thing to do, and we have a long, long history of understanding how vaccines work, and how it’s prevented our children from getting all of these diseases that grievously can cause serious harm and death – and today we don’t see that in society if our children are vaccinated,” asserted Carmona.

On November 2, McKesson announced that it began distributing ancillary supply kits needed to administer the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 5-11, per the FDA’s emergency-use authorization (EUA) for child vaccinations.

McKesson has served as one of the biggest distributors of the COVID-19 vaccine. In July, McKesson reported that they’d distributed over 185 million doses of the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson/Janssen COVID-19 vaccines to date. They added that they had readied enough kits to distribute another 785 million doses for all vaccine types once available. The latest data reflects an estimated 451 million doses administered in the U.S. so far.

Based on a report filed to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in June of this year, non-employee directors are compensated with $110,000 annual cash retainer, $180,000-value restricted stock unit (RSU) award, $240,000 annual premium (50 percent cash, 50 percent RSUs), and $10,000 annual cash retainer for chairing a standing committee or $20,000 for chairs of Audit and Compensation Committees. Expenses for attending board and committee meetings are also covered.

Carmona’s compensation wasn’t listed on the report because he wasn’t elected until September.

The former surgeon general has a wide array of leadership roles in other health-related areas. Carmona became the University of Arizona’s (UArizona) first distinguished professor of public health at their Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health. He’s also been at the forefront of UArizona’s COVID-19 response plan.

Additionally, Carmona serves as a director for Herbalife Nutrition, a multi-level marketing company (MLM) offering diet supplements that has faced controversy over alleged connections between its products and damage to the liver or kidneys. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warns that MLMs are often a guise for pyramid schemes, which are illegal. Herbalife Nutrition settled with the FTC in 2016 for $200 million over allegations that they falsely told customers they could profit from the business.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to

Arizona Reaches Tentative $26 Billion Opioid Settlement Agreement

Arizona Reaches Tentative $26 Billion Opioid Settlement Agreement

The Arizona Attorney General’s Office announced that it has signed on to a tentative historic $26 billion multistate settlement with four pharmaceutical companies for their roles in the opioid crisis. The tentative agreement includes Cardinal, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen – the nation’s three major pharmaceutical distributors – and Johnson & Johnson, which manufactured and marketed opioids.

According to the Attorney General’s Office, final details, including a critical mass of states and political subdivisions nationally, are necessary to finalize the settlement. If finalized, Arizona would receive up to $549 million from the settlement and the money would be used for opioid treatment, prevention, and education.

If the settlement is finalized, Arizona’s funds will be distributed through the Arizona Opioid Settlement Memorandum of Understanding (One Arizona Plan). In October 2020, the AGO and local governments (90 cities and towns and all 15 counties) signed on to the One Arizona Plan to maximize Arizona’s amount of recovery from opioid settlements. The One Arizona Plan also ensures that funds will be expeditiously distributed across Arizona. Read more on the One Arizona Plan here .

Funding Overview:

  • Nationally, the three distributors (Cardinal, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen) collectively will pay up to $21 billion over 18 years.
  • Nationally, Johnson & Johnson will pay up to $5 billion over nine years with up to $3.7 billion paid during the first three years.
  • The total funding distributed will be determined by the overall degree of participation by both litigating and non-litigating state and local governments.
  • After attorneys’ fees and costs, the money is to be spent on opioid treatment and prevention.
  • Arizona’s share of the national funding has been determined by an agreement among the states using a formula that takes into account the impact of the crisis on the state and the population of the state.

Injunctive Relief Overview:

  • The 10-year agreement will result in court orders requiring Cardinal, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen to:
    • Establish a centralized independent clearinghouse to provide all three distributors and state regulators with aggregated data and analytics about where drugs are going and how often, eliminating blind spots in the current systems used by distributors.
    • Use data-driven systems to detect suspicious opioid orders from customer pharmacies.
    • Terminate customer pharmacies’ ability to receive shipments, and report those companies to state regulators, when they show certain signs of diversion.
    • Prohibit shipping of and report suspicious opioid orders.
    • Prohibit sales staff from influencing decisions related to identifying suspicious opioid orders.
    • Require senior corporate officials to engage in regular oversight of anti-diversion efforts.
  • The 10-year agreement will result in court orders requiring Johnson & Johnson to:
    • Stop selling opioids.
    • Not fund or provide grants to third parties for promoting opioids.
    • Not lobby on activities related to opioids.
    • Share clinical trial data under the Yale University Open Data Access Project.

In order for the multistate settlement to be finalized, a critical mass of participating states and local governments will need to sign on.

The settlement comes as a result of investigations by state attorneys general into whether the three distributors fulfilled their legal duty to refuse to ship opioids to pharmacies that submitted suspicious drug orders and whether Johnson & Johnson misled patients and doctors about the addictive nature of opioid drugs. The settlement would resolve claims of both states and local governments across the country, including the nearly 4,000 that have filed lawsuits in federal and state courts.

Tragically, last year, drug overdose deaths rose to a record 93,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Arizona saw a 30 percent increase in overdose deaths over the prior year, claiming more than 2,600 lives in 2020. Countless more have seen their lives torn apart by the disease of addiction. The damage, which continues in part every day due to an insecure southern border, also impacts their families, friends and communities.