The rehearses find that the The maker of OxyContin has been cast as the chief villain in the nation’s opioid crisis. But newly released government figures suggest Purdue Pharma had plenty of help in flooding the U.S. with billions of pills even as overdose deaths were accelerating. Therefore Records kept by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration show that 76 billion oxycodone and hydrocodone pills the vast majority of them generics; not brand names are ship to U.S. pharmacies from 2006 to 2012.
The nation’s opioid crisis
The annual number swelled by more than 50% over that period of time even as the body count climb. The powerful painkillers flow faster even after Purdue Pharma is fined $635 million for falsely marketing OxyContin as less addictive than other opioids. “This data confirms that the pharmaceutical industry created a tsunami of opiates that drove addiction and death rates up;” Dr. Thomas Frieden, former head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; said in a statement.
It also illustrates how complicate it could be for the courts to figure out who should be held accountable for the public health disaster. More than 2,000 state; local and tribal governments have sued members of the drug industry in the biggest and possibly most complicated litigation of its kind ever in the U.S.
Most comprehensive picture
A federal judge who is overseeing most of the cases and pushing for a settlement ruled this week that detail drug-shipment data compile by the DEA should be made public over the industry’s objections. The judge has not allow the release of information from 2013 and 2014. But the material unsealed constitutes the most comprehensive picture yet of how the crisis unfolded.
The Washington Post; which along with HD Media, the owner of newspapers in West Virginia; went to court to seek the information; was the first to publish the data. Prescription and illegal opioids such as heroin and fentanyl have been factors in more than 430,000 deaths in the U.S. since 2000; according to the CDC. From 2006 to 2012; annual opioid deaths rose from under 18,000 a year to more than 23,000. During that time; prescription drugs were cited as factors in just under half the deaths.
Drug overdose deaths
Since then, overall opioid deaths in the U.S. have doubled, though on Wednesday the CDC reported that drug overdose deaths of all kinds probably fell last year for the first time in nearly three decades. The newly released information shows in the detail the flow of drugs from manufacturers to communities.
West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and Nevada all received more than 50 pills for every man; woman and child each year. Several areas in the Appalachian region were shipped an average of well over 100 pills per person per year. “It’s like being on the front lines of a war every day,” said Joe Engle, sheriff of Perry County, Kentucky; which received 175 pills per person per year. “Our people here in eastern Kentucky have take advantage of by these pharmaceutical companies. It’s the one of the worst things you can do to a society, to a people. And we’re suffering.”