by Julie Fidler, Natural Society:
The United States is embroiled in a fierce battle against opioid abuse. In 2014, there was a 3.4-fold increase in the number of opioid overdose deaths in America. The state hit hardest by the opioid crisis is West Virginia, where drug companies pumped 782 million pain pills into the state over the last 6 years.
In 2015, West Virginia had the highest rate of opioid overdose deaths in the country. Since 1999, overdose deaths have quadrupled in the state.
The Charleston Gazette-Mail obtained previously confidential drug shipping sales records sent by the DEA to West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s office. The paper used the records to disclose the number of pain pills sold to every pharmacy in the state, as well as the drug companies’ shipments to all 55 counties in West Virginia between 2007 and 2012. Their findings, both astounding and infuriating, were documented in a report published in the paper on December 17.
One drug company shipped nearly 9 million hydrocodone pills to a single pharmacy in Mingo County over the course of 2 years. The rural, impoverished county has the 4th-highest prescription opioid death rate of any county in the U.S.
In Wyoming County, which has the highest overdose rate in the entire nation, shipments of OxyContin doubled. One privately-owned pharmacy in the town of Oceana received 600 times as many oxycodone pills as the Rite Aid pharmacy only 8 blocks away.
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