NEW: Bloomberg Law Article Details West Virginia AG Patrick Morrisey’s “Disappointing Results” in Combatting the Opioid Crisis; Highlights Morrisey’s Cozy Relationship with Big Pharma
A recent Bloomberg Law article highlights potential problems brewing for Republican AG Patrick Morrisey as he seeks re-election this November. Morrisey, who is not a native of the state, previously worked as a lobbyist working on behalf of pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors. His actions and close ties to the opioid industry are now being scrutinized by voters as his campaign heads into re-election in massive debt.
Here is what you may have missed from Bloomberg Law:
In a state that’s widely considered to be ground zero of the opioid crisis, Patrick Morrisey’s history as a lobbyist for the pharmaceutical industry and the relatively low settlements he negotiated with opioid distributors are working against him as he runs for re-election.
West Virginia House of Delegates member Isaac Sponaugle, one of two candidates seeking the Democratic nomination, said Morrisey has “literally fed the opioid crisis in the state” and has called the settlements reached with drug companies slaps on the wrist. Sponaugle’s opponent in the primary, Samuel Petsonk, said Morrisey’s “record on the addiction crisis is an absolute conspicuous and embarrassing failure.”
There are some signs the criticism is resonating with voters. Terra Tompkins, of Parkersburg, West Virginia, said the $84 million in settlement money is “a very big disappointment,” especially after seeing years of destruction wreaked by the massive influx of opioids in her community.
“It seems like he could have done a better job, based on what other states have done,” she said.
The attorney general’s settlements “tend to be small and episodic, and they tend to be expended in a way that does not best serve the people of West Virginia,” Gupta added. “When the Amerisource Bergen settlement came out it was about $37 million and a third of it was taken by lawyers. But the rest of it went to constructing treatment beds, while the need to abate the crisis is much larger than that.”
Rhetoric on Morrisey’s handling of the opioid settlements will “absolutely” help his Democratic challengers, said Patrick McGinley, a professor of law at West Virginia University.
“They’re going to strongly argue that Morrisey sold out the state and settled too cheap, and this is a very sensitive issue here because so many people have been touched by this epidemic,” McGinley said.
“It’s a potent argument and West Virginians will listen to it, depending on how Morrisey responds to it and whether his response is believable,” he added.
And here’s more on Morrisey’s deep ties to the pharmaceutical industry, who remain loyal campaign donors.
He also represented eight of the top 10 pharmaceutical and biotech manufacturers, according to a press release by his former employer. The group’s members include Cardinal, McKesson and AmerisourceBergen.
His former clients and employers have remained loyal since Morrisey left Washington, D.C., where he was a lobbyist, to run for office in West Virginia.
A Bloomberg Law analysis of Morrisey’s state campaign finance records reveal that he received more than $320,000 in donations from pharmaceutical companies, pharmacies, and lobbyists and law firms that count pharmaceutical companies among their clients. That includes $92,000 directly from pharmaceutical companies and more than $88,000 from the firms that he worked for prior to his current role.
In 2017, Morrisey reached the state’s $20 million settlement with Cardinal, which poured more opiates into the state than any other company, according to the Post database. The company admitted no liability or wrongdoing as part of the deal, according to the settlement, obtained by Bloomberg Law.
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