Amid all the "blame-Obama for drugs" hoopla that we got last week from state Republicans and our local "newspapers," none of the finger-pointers wanted to mention, let alone blame, the drug companies and their distributors for shipping pain pills into southern West Virginia in numbers that far exceeded the demand. At the end of his term of office, WV Attorney General Darrell McGraw brought a lawsuit against Cardinal Health and a group of drug wholesalers over this matter over three years ago. Since becoming attorney general in 2013, Patrick Morrisey has done next-to-nothing with the case some believe because of an obvious conflict-of-interest. Morrisey previously was:
. . . . a former lobbyist for a national trade group — Health Care Distribution Management Association — that represents Cardinal Health and other drug wholesalers being sued by the Attorney General’s Office.
And his wife:
Since Morrisey has taken office, his wife’s firm has received $1.47 million from Cardinal Health for lobbying work on Capitol Hill.
The Charleston paper has been following the case closely and I have cited them here and here. They are still closely following developments. From yesterday's lengthy front-page story by Eric Eyre:
West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey gave “specific instructions” for his office’s lawsuits against drug giant Cardinal Health and other pain pill wholesalers, while Cardinal Health was paying Morrisey’s wife to lobby for the company in Washington, D.C., according to federal lobbying disclosures, court records and an email that Morrisey has fought to keep secret for more than two years.
Morrisey disputes that the email and documents show that he played any part in the Cardinal Health lawsuit.
The email sent by Morrisey’s former chief deputy, Dan Greear, also reveals that Morrisey and Greear wanted to attend a May 2013 court hearing about the Cardinal Health case — along with a companion case against a dozen other drug wholesalers — to refute allegations “that the AG does not control the litigation.” The hearing was postponed because Morrisey and Greear couldn’t be there, court records show.
Greear’s email and the court records contradict Morrisey’s repeated assertions over the past two years that he stepped aside from the Cardinal Health lawsuit when he took office in January 2013.
Morrisey has resisted requests to release the email since September 2013. The Gazette-Mail obtained a copy of the email last week.
Emails contradicting Morrisey's position? A conflict of interest? This is a complex issue and the Gazette-Mail has been diligent in trying to get to the truth including a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act. What about the Wheeling "newspapers"? This story has been completely ignored by them. But didn't they do an editorial two weeks ago, "Information Access Critical," about the important role that newspapers play in providing the public with access to information? Yes, but such access is critical only when it supports a coal owner fighting the EPA; never mind if it means questioning one of their favorite WV politicians.
Update October 27 - Drug companies sue to stop "pill mill" suit
From the front page of this morning's Gazette-Mail:
Eleven of the nation’s largest prescription drug distributors are asking the West Virginia Supreme Court to stop a state lawsuit that alleges the companies turned a blind eye to suspicious orders from “pill mill” pharmacies.
In case you missed it, the biggest story on the Intelligencer's front page was a story about how a woman in Texas and others have lost money investing in gas and oil partnerships.