Major Drug Distribution in a Small Virginia Town Raises Questions

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Along with the opioid crisis comes major investigation into which cities have been receiving too many prescriptions – according to Quartz Media, drug wholesalers shipped 9 million painkillers over 2 years to a small, West Virginia pharmacy – and it’s raising grave concerns. Reporters in West Virginia analyzed shipment data from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and found three major pharmaceutical companies – McKesson, Cardinal Health, and Amerisource Bergen – making $17 billion in revenue from painkillers sold in the area. West Virginia has the highest death rate from opioid addiction in the country, placing these distributors at great legal risk.

The distributers are blaming doctors, however. Sam Suppa, retired Charleston pharmacist, stated,

It starts with the doctor writing, the pharmacist filling, and the wholesaler distributing. They’re all three in bed together. The distributers knew what was going on. They just didn’t care.”

Fortune Magazine stated that between 2007 and 2012, wholesalers collectively shipped 780 million painkillers to West Virginia, stating that this equates to 433 doses for every woman, man, and child in the state. McKesson takes on the major portion of blame, because it is the largest and distributed the most painkillers compared to other distribution companies. The Department of Justice announced that McKesson will settle for $150 million from civil claims, will be highly monitored, and will operate under a heightened compliance agreement.

Chairman Greg Walden and ranking member Frank Pallone, Jr., members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce stated,

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.”

As local and government officials continue to look into the crisis, Americans are still suffering. The destruction the opioid crisis has caused is unfathomable – death from opioid overdose is now more common than car crashes. As a nation, we have to come together and educate each other and ourselves on the dangers that opioids can cause, along with providing more support to one another through troubling times.

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