In One Year, Town of 400 Was Shipped 2.2M Opioids

W.Va. numbers are 'outrageous,' say congressional investigators
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 30, 2018 9:45 AM CST
Updated Feb 4, 2018 4:30 PM CST
In One Year, Town of 400 Was Shipped 2.2M Opioids
An arrangement of pills of the opioid oxycodone-acetaminophen are seen in New York.   (AP Photo/Patrick Sison, File)

(Newser) – Williamson, W.Va., is home to 2,900 people. That's one reason congressional investigators are flabbergasted by documents showing two local pharmacies received 20.8 million prescription painkillers from out-of-state drug companies over a decade, reports the Charleston Gazette-Mail. Ohio-based wholesaler Miami-Luken says it supplied 6.4 million hydrocodone and oxycodone pills to one Williamson pharmacy from 2008 to 2015. It also says it shipped 5.7 million pills to two pharmacies in nearby Kermit, home to 400 people, between 2005 and 2011. In 2008 alone, Miami-Luken provided the equivalent of 14 pills a day for every Kermit resident, including children, while Illinois-based drug wholesaler HD Smith supplied 3,000 hydrocodone tablets a day to a pharmacy in a town with 1,800 people, records show.

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"These numbers are outrageous, and we will get to the bottom of how this destruction was able to be unleashed," members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee say. They add that their inquiry into the role of drug distributors in the opioid crisis has already revealed "what seems to be a shocking lack of oversight." For example, 40% of oxycodone prescriptions filled in 2015 by an Oceana pharmacy supplied by Miami-Luken went to patients of a doctor whose clinic was located two hours away, the panel says. Miami-Luken and HD Smith have separately paid millions to settle lawsuits accusing the companies of flooding West Virginia with opioids. They have until Feb. 9 to respond to investigators' questions, including why shipments weren't deemed suspicious in a state with the highest drug overdose death rate in the country, per Fox News. (Read more opioids stories.)

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