CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey formerly lobbied for a national drug distribution trade association in Washington, D.C., generating $250,000 for his law firm over 16 months.
Now, Morrisey's office is managing a lawsuit against 10 out-of-state drug companies that belong to the same trade association.
The lawsuit -- filed by former attorney general Darrell McGraw in June 2012 -- alleges that the drug wholesalers profited from West Virginia's prescription drug abuse problem. Morrisey, a Republican, defeated Democrat McGraw in the November general election.
From September 2010 to December 2011, Morrisey lobbied for the Healthcare Distribution Management Association, an Arlington, Va.-based trade group that has 32 member companies, 10 of which are defendants in the West Virginia attorney general's lawsuit, records show.
Morrisey's office has a separate lawsuit -- with essentially the same allegations -- against prescription drug distributor Cardinal Health, which also is a member of the trade association. Morrisey has said he recused himself from the Cardinal Health case the day he took office in mid-January. He assigned his chief deputy, Dan Greear, to manage the Cardinal Health lawsuit.
Morrisey did not respond to questions about the second lawsuit against the drug companies this week. He would not say if he stepped aside from that case, which was filed in Boone County Circuit Court.
The prescription drug distributors named in the second lawsuit are: AmerisourceBergen Drug Corp. and H.D. Smith Wholesale Drug Co., of Delaware; Miami-Luken Inc., KeySource Medical Inc. and Masters Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Ohio; Harvard Drug Group and Auburn Pharmaceutical Co., of Michigan; J.M. Smith Corp., of South Carolina; Associated Pharmacies of Alabama; Quest Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Richie Pharmacal Co., of Kentucky; Top Rx of Tennessee; and Anda Inc., of Florida.
Only Masters Pharmaceuticals, Quest Pharmaceuticals and Associated Pharmacies Inc. aren't members of the Healthcare Distribution Management Association, according to the group's website.
While an attorney at the King & Spalding law firm in Washington, Morrisey lobbied on behalf of the Healthcare Distribution Management Association to lower the prices paid by drug distributors to manufacturers of Medicare drugs, according to his lobbying disclosure forms.
The form lists Morrisey as the only lawyer at the firm who lobbied for the trade association, which paid $250,000 for his advocacy work over a year and four months, according to congressional records.
Morrisey's contract with the trade association ended in December 2011, by mutual agreement, and on good terms, Morrisey told the Legal Times, a weekly newspaper that covers law and lobbying in Washington.
A spokesman for the Healthcare Distribution Management Association said the group hired Morrisey as a lobbyist after it merged with the Specialty & Biotech Distributors Association in 2010. At the time, Morrisey headed the SBDA, said John Parker, an HDMA spokesman. The specialty drugs trade group had six member companies, including Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen -- two of the firms now being sued by Morrisey's office.
Morrisey also was SBDA's lead lobbyist in 2010, according to disclosure forms. The organization paid him $30,000 before the merger.
"As the head of SBDA at the time, Morrisey was retained by HDMA for 18 months following the integration to provide government affairs services on legislative and regulatory issues affecting specialty health-care distribution," Parker said Wednesday. "At the end of 2011, HDMA moved to avoid duplication of services and to rely on existing staff and expertise to address pharmaceutical issues."