How did West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey Become “Pain Pill Pat”?


West Virginia AG Patrick Morrisey took office in 2013 as West Virginia worked to address the opioid crisis that resulted in thousands of lives lost in the state and in the middle of a lawsuit against several drug distributors for their role in exacerbating the deadly crisis.

In a state referred to as ground zero of the opioid crisis, West Virginians needed an Attorney General who would fight for justice for the thousands of families suffering from the epidemic. Instead they got “Pain Pill Pat” — a former opioid lobbyist who took office and did exactly what he knew how to do best: pander to big pharmaceutical companies at the expense of suffering West Virginia families.

You must be wondering how you get a nickname like “Pain Pill Pat.” Well, where do we start?

“Pain Pill Pat” cares more about padding his pockets with money from Big Pharma than serving the people of West Virginia.

  • Before becoming AG, Morrisey lobbied for the Healthcare Distribution Management Association, the industry group representing pharmaceutical distributors including Cardinal Health, McKesson and AmerisourceBergen — companies responsible for funneling opioids throughout the state and some of the defendants in the state’s lawsuit.
  • AG Morrisey failed to cut ties with the pharmaceutical industry when he was elected. In fact, his wife was a pharmaceutical lobbyist. One of her biggest clients? Cardinal Health, the state’s leading opioid supplier. Cardinal employed Morrisey’s wife from 1999 to 2016 — the same time the company was knowingly saturating West Virginia with addictive drugs.
  • After Morrisey became AG, Cardinal Health paid his wife and her lobbying firm $1.4 million.
  • Cardinal Health contributed more than $8,000 to AG Morrisey’s campaign both before and after the 2012 election.
  • Morrisey took significant contributions from pharma industry leaders during his 2018 failed Senate run and he’s continuing to take Big Pharma money this cycle.

“Pain Pill Pat” claimed to recuse himself from the Cardinal Health litigation, but there is no record to support his claim.

  • In fact, despite this “recusal,” AG Morrisey held a meeting with Cardinal Health executives and the company’s lawyer about the lawsuit and fielded correspondence about the case in 2013 while the case was still ongoing.
  • West Virginia Office of Disciplinary Counsel launched an investigation of AG Morrisey due to allegations that he did not properly distance himself from two lawsuits against drug wholesalers that are accused of playing a major role in West Virginia’s prescription drug problem.
  • A Cabell County businessman filed a complaint with the state Lawyer Disciplinary Board due to Morrisey’s history and relationship with drug companies, noting an “incurable conflict of interest” and questioning his ability to “vigorously prosecute” the cases considering Morrisey’s ties to the companies.

While “Pain Pill Pat” defends his record and denies that his past profession has influenced his work, the numbers tell a different story.

  • Since 2016, AG Morrisey has reached only $84 million in settlements with 13 different drug wholesalers and distributors, including $72 million, combined, from Cardinal Health, AmerisourceBergen, and McKesson Corp.
  • By comparison, two counties in Ohio reached a deal with the same three companies for $213 million — almost three times what Morrisey secured for his whole state.
  • Many West Virginians are frustrated with how little AG Morrisey secured from the companies who decimated the state, with some referring to it as a “slap on the wrist,” a very big disappointment” and that he could’ve “done a better job, based on what other states have done.”

It’s not surprising that a career pharmaceutical lobbyist like Patrick Morrisey is hesitant to thoroughly prosecute the same corporations that once had him on payroll. And, it’s not surprising voters are skeptical of his ability to serve as the AG who can help them through this devastating crisis.

To make matters even worse, rather than work to protect the thousands of families still reeling from the crisis, “Pain Pill Pat,” alongside a coalition of Republican AGs, is working tirelessly to take away health care from more than 160,000 West Virginians. He is working to strip Affordable Care Act benefits that have help give West Virginians battling with addiction the life-saving care they need.

Sometimes nicknames are just fun and games, but when it comes to Patrick “Pain Pill Pat” Morrisey, the stakes are no joking matter. It’s time for “Pain Pill Pat” — and his big Pharma friends — to go.



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