The Great Smoky Mountain Journal
Source: Fox News
Posted: Tuesday, January 01, 2019 02:25 PM
Drug Wholesalers Sent 20.8M Prescription Painkillers To West Virginia Town Of 2900
A congressional committee investigating
the opioid crisis has discovered out-of-state drug companies shipped
20.8 million prescription painkillers over a decade to two pharmacies in
a Southern West Virginia town with 2,900 people.
Between 2006 and 2016, two drug wholesalers shipped 10.2 million hydrocodone pills and 10.6 million oxycodone pills to Tug Valley Pharmacy and Hurley Drug in the town of Williamson, in Mingo County, the Charleston Gazette-Mail reported.
“These numbers are outrageous, and we will get to the bottom of how this destruction was able to be unleashed across West Virginia,” the House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden, R-Ore. and ranking member Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J. said in a joint statement.
The panel investigating the opioid epidemic in the U.S. sent out letters to drug wholesalers Miami-Luken and H.D. Smith, questioning why the companies did not see the increased shipments as suspicious all while the deaths from overdose skyrocketed in West Virginia. The letters also asked why the companies complied with the requests for more prescription painkillers.
Both companies have until February 9 to respond to questions and provide relevant documents detailing what measures, if any, they took to end the flood of pain pills into the state.
“We will continue to investigate these distributors’ shipments of large quantities of powerful opioids across West Virginia, including what seems to be a shocking lack of oversight over their distribution practices,” the lawmakers’ statement added.
According to a Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland study, the nationwide rate of deaths from opioid overdoses was about 10 per 100,000 people, but West Virginia is leading the way with 35 deaths per 100,000 people. At least 880 people have died in West Virginia in 2016 as a result of overdoses.
Ohio-based Miami-Luken drug wholesaler reportedly sold 6.4 million hydrocodone and oxycodone pills to Tug Valley Pharmacy between 2008 and 2015, the company told the panel, according to the outlet. In 2008, the company’s shipments to the town tripled compared to the previous year.
Miami-Luken also provided 5.7 million
hydrocodone and oxycodone pills to the Mingo County town of Kermit with
400 people, the report said. In 2008 alone, the company was responsible
for over five thousand pain pills for every person in town.