In a ground breaking investigation, the Washington Post and the Charleston Gazette-Mail in West Virginia, released a county-by-county database of information detailing the number of hydrocodone and oxycodone prescription pills that were supplied in each county in the nation, including the names and amounts supplied by each pharmacy in that county.
But it was only after a grueling, year-long legal battle that the newspapers obtained the information from the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Automation of Reports and Consolidated Orders System, known as ARCOS.
Since I cover Washington County, I thought I would check out the information as it related to the county.
In a six-year period, from 2006 to 2012, there were 12,635,370 prescription pain pills supplied to Washington County. That’s about 28 opioids per person, per year.
At 28 pills per person, at perhaps two pills a day, that would be a 14 day prescription, well into the time a person can become addicted.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, the risk for addiction and long-term use rises quickly after just three days.
From 2006 to 2012, 3,033,410 of the pills in Washington County were distributed by McKesson Corporation and 6,007,300 were manufactured by SpecGx LLC.
The top five pharmacies were:
Rite Aid in Hudson Falls, 2,342,010 pills; Rite Aid in Granville, 1,721,550, McCann Drug Co, in Hudson Falls, 1,193,300, CVS in Greenwich, 1,189,800, Eckerd Corp., in Hudson Falls, 1,183,700
Hudson Falls, according to the data, had 4,719,010 pills dispenses, the highest number of prescription opioids supplied in the county, with the Rite Aid supplying the highest number of pills.
During the time period the data covers, Hudson Falls had a population of about 6,900. That's nearly 600 pills per person or 100 pills per year.
I was watching the Rachel Maddow Show last night, and Maddow detailed the information as it relates to the opioid crisis in the nation.
According to Maddow, the manufacturers of these pills knew they were shipping such high quantities to low population towns, likening it to drug dealing.
To check the data for any county in the nation: