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Report: DEA records show W. Va. flooded with painkillers
Published in 20-12-2016
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(AP) Drug wholesalers shipped 780 million hydrocodone and oxycodone pills to West Virginia in just six years, a period when 1,728 people fatally overdosed on these two painkillers, according to an investigation by the Charleston Gazette-Mail. The records which leading drug wholesalers had fought in court to keep secret show the wholesalers shipped ever-higher doses of the pills a telltale sign of growing addictions even as the death toll climbed, the newspaper reported on Sunday. The drug distributors say they're just middlemen in a highly regulated industry and that pills would never get in the hands of addicts and dealers if not for unscrupulous doctors who write illegal prescriptions, and pharmacists who turn a blind eye. "The two roles that interface directly with the patient the doctors who write the prescriptions and the pharmacists who fill them are in a better position to identify and prevent the abuse and diversion of potentially addictive controlled substance," McKesson General Counsel John Saia wrote in a letter released by the company, the newspaper reported. DEA agent Kyle Wright warned Morrisey aides in January 2015 that the wholesalers were shipping both opioids in more potent, commonly abused dosages, according to emails Morrisey released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from the Gazette-Mail. A spokesman for AmerisourceBergen suggested health experts and law enforcement would be better able to comment on whether there's a link between pain-pill volumes and overdose deaths. "All parties including pharmacies, doctors, hospitals, manufacturers, patients and state officials share the responsibility to fight opioid abuse," said Ellen Barry, a spokeswoman for Cardinal Health. [...] the board, in turn, failed to enforce the same regulations, even as it approved spotless inspection reviews to small-town pharmacies ordering more pills than could possibly be taken by people who really needed medicine to manage pain.