Sharing this with GT as I thought it might be of interest, and it’s an example of some fantastic investigative journalism from a small newspaper:
It’s a two-part series detailing how several drug wholesale companies profited billions of dollars basically directly from West Virginians’ addictions to prescription painkillers. And, how they absolutely knew what they were doing or should have known based on the astronomical numbers of pills they were shipping to these small counties in a small state. Of course, local pharmacies and doctors writing and filling these orders are another part of the chain as well. The numbers are staggering.
Just a sample:
The trail of painkillers leads to West Virginia’s southern coalfields, to places like Kermit, population 392. There, out-of-state drug companies shipped nearly 9 million highly addictive — and potentially lethal — hydrocodone pills over two years to a single pharmacy in the Mingo County town.
Rural and poor, Mingo County has the fourth-highest prescription opioid death rate of any county in the United States.
The trail also weaves through Wyoming County, where shipments of OxyContin have doubled, and the county’s overdose death rate leads the nation. One mom-and-pop pharmacy in Oceana received 600 times as many oxycodone pills as the Rite Aid drugstore just eight blocks away.
In six years, drug wholesalers showered the state with 780 million hydrocodone and oxycodone pills, while 1,728 West Virginians fatally overdosed on those two painkillers, a Sunday Gazette-Mail investigation found.
The unfettered shipments amount to 433 pain pills for every man, woman and child in West Virginia.
This is an issue close to my heart; I grew up in the Ohio Valley in and around that northern panhandle that’s pretty damn dark red on that map. I don’t know what the answer is here.