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Drug Companies Poured 780 Million Painkiller Pills Into West Virginia

20 December 2016, 10:56 am EST By Livia Rusu Tech Times
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Trump celebrates West Virginia's Democratic governor switching parties
West Virginia has shipped a giant number of painkillers inside the state, from 2007 to 2012. Prior to the investigation, which found these alarming numbers, nobody ever reported suspicious activities of the pharmacies throughout state.   ( Tim Boyle | Getty Images )

Drug companies have sold 782 million hydrocodone and oxycodone pills in West Virginia throughout six years, from 2007 to 2012, shows new report. Additionally, the state is also one of the most problematic across the United States when it comes to fighting the opioid addiction epidemic.

In 2015, West Virginia scored the highest death rate caused by drug overdose, and since 1999 opioid overdoses have quadrupled here.

Baffling Number Of Pills - Shipped In West Virginia

Only between 2007 and 2012, while the investigation lasted, 1,728 people already died from overdose in West Virginia, caused by consumption of either hydrocodone or oxycodone.

Charleston Gazette-Mail, the newspaper who conducted this investigation, managed to obtain the sales record sent by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to the office of the West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey. However, this was a very difficult thing to do, as the companies made efforts to keep the sales numbers secret.

To put this into a more accurate picture, West Virginia has a number of 1.84 million residents; the number of pills shipped into the stated throughout this period totals 433 pills for every person in the state, be it man, woman or child.

"Distributors have fed their greed on human frailties and to criminal effect. There is no excuse and should be no forgiveness," noted retired pharmacist ad former state Delegate Don Perdue.

According to the report, more than half of the pills shipped throughout the state during this time frame were produced by the nation's three largest prescription drug wholesalers: McKesson Corp., Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen Drug Co.

No Inspections In Pharmacies

According to the records, there has been a huge discrepancy between the numbers of deaths caused by overdoses in the southern West Virginia counties compared to the northern ones. Oddly enough, the investigation shows that most of the pharmacies which did receive the largest numbers of pills were actually very small, independent drug stores or owned by locals in the area.

The situation is all the more odd, as a town with no more than 392 people received a number of almost 9 million hydrocodone pills in two years, through a single pharmacy. It would be close to impossible for a locally owned business to sell so many pills in such a short period of time, especially as the town is really small.

However, despite these very disproportionate numbers that show a baffling reality, distributors never reported any kind of suspicious orders to the state's Board of Pharmacy, and the pharmacies throughout the state did not receive their inspections on time, which would have helped identify this situation more rapidly.

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