Drug firms shipped 20.8 million opioids to WV town with 2900 people

Wednesday, 31 Jan, 2018

A small town in West Virginia was flooded with roughly 20.8 million opioid painkillers over the past decade by drug companies, according to a recent congressional investigation.

Williamson, W.Va., is home to 2,900 people.

Shipment papers indicate the wholesalers made large deliveries of the drugs over several consecutive days. Both of these records should have sparked suspicion. The opioids - hydrocodone and oxycodone pills - were provided to two pharmacies just four blocks apart.

The committee also questioned why H.D. Smith, a drug distributor based in IL, sent 1 million hydrocodone pills in 2008 to a pharmacy Mount Gay-Shamrock, a town of about 1,779 people.

"These numbers are outrageous, and we will get to the bottom of how this destruction was able to be unleashed across West Virginia", Rep. Greg Walden, committee chairman, and Rep. If you do the math, that would mean the town is getting over two million pills per year, which would be enough for over 700 pills for each person living in the town, enough for almost pills a day. Miami-Luken provided Kermit pharmacies with 5.7 million prescription painkillers between 2005 and 2011, The Charleston Gazette-Mail reported.

The company also sent 4 million pain pills to another pharmacy in Oceana, West Virginia, a town of 1,390 people, from 2008 to 2015, the committee said.

The companies previously agreed to pay the state of Virginia as a penalty in response to allegations that they sent far too many painkillers and failed to detect, report, or stop the influx of suspicious drugs. Miami-Luken paid $2.5 million to settle a lawsuit with the state after it was accused of dumping pills and causing a public health crisis.

"The committee's bipartisan investigation continues to identify systemic issues with the inordinate number of opioids distributed to small town pharmacies", they said in the statement.

West Virginia now suffers the highest rate of drug overdose deaths in the country due to opioid addiction, losing more than 880 people in 2016.