Morrisey watch 13
Here's the AP report from the morning Intelligencer:
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - West Virginia's attorney general has accused one of the nation's largest drug wholesalers of flooding the state with tens of millions of doses of prescription pills in violation of state law.
Attorney General Patrick Morrisey on Friday announced a lawsuit against San Francisco-based McKesson Corp. The suit was filed in Boone County Circuit Court.
Among other things, the lawsuit alleges violations of state consumer protection laws and the uniform controlled substances act.
McKesson didn't immediately respond to an email request for comment.
Morrisey says an investigation by his office found that McKesson delivered about 99.5 million doses of hydrocodone and oxycodone to West Virginia between 2007 and 2012.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, West Virginia leads the nation in the rate of fatal drug overdoses.
The Charleston Gazette-Mail has been following this story since Morrisey took office in 2013 -- most specifically connecting his previous job as lobbyist for drug distributors and his reluctance to continue a suit developed by the previous attorney general (McGraw). This sketchy AP report leaves out a number of details. From a much more thorough report from David Gutman in today's Gazette-Mail:
Before taking office in 2013, Morrisey spent two years lobbying for the Healthcare Distribution Management Association (HDMA), an Arlington, Virginia-based trade group that represents McKesson and other drug wholesalers.
Additionally, state agencies have been pressing for a lawsuit for a couple of years:
In August 2014, the state’s Department of Health and Human Resources and Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety asked Morrisey to sue the drug distributor on their behalf, saying that it shipped an excessive number of pain pills to West Virginia.
At the time, Morrisey’s office resisted the request, instead taking bids from outside lawyers to assist in his own investigation into McKesson.
Okay, this suit has been in the works since McGraw was attorney general in 2012. Why now?
Morrisey probably knew about the CBS News investigation into West Virginia's pill mills which aired Wednesday and Thursday night (see two posts down) and probably figured that his office needed to look like it was actually doing something.
With an upcoming election, Morrisey can take sole credit for the lawsuit:
The lawsuit Morrisey filed Friday does not include the DHHR or DMAPS as plaintiffs, and the two state agencies were not notified that the lawsuit was going to be filed.
“The Department of Health and Human Resources and the Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety also have claims against McKesson and have repeatedly asked the attorney general to assert those claims,” Chris Stadelman, spokesman for Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, said Friday.
And then there's this:
Morrisey filed his lawsuit Friday, one day after the Gazette-Mail filed a Freedom of Information Act request for details of his investigation into McKesson.
Despite a number of opportunities, the Wheeling "newspapers" have never written a single word about Morrisey's reluctance to file lawsuits against his previous employer, the Healthcare Distribution Management Association, or any its members. (Morrisey is, after all, one of their favorites.) I don't believe that they will start now. However, this suit should give them an opportunity to praise him for the "outstanding job that he is doing in fighting West Virginia's drug epidemic" or something like that. Look for it.
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