Drug companies dumped 415 million pain pills on Miami Valley in 6-year period

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FILE – This Monday, June 17, 2019, file photo, shows 5-mg pills of Oxycodone. Two Ohio counties are asking a judge to find that drugmakers and distributors were not allowed to ship suspicious orders of controlled substances to pharmacies. If a judge sides with the request from Cuyahoga and Summit counties, it would clear the way for the governments to assert that drug companies ignored the regulations as a nationwide opioid crisis continued to grow. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Pharmaceutical companies dispersed approximately 415 million hydrocodone and oxycodone pills in the Miami Valley from 2006 to 2012, according to data released by the Washington Post from the Drug Enforcement Agency.

In Montgomery County, the total was 175 million.

The report was part of a longterm Washington Post investigation of the pain pill epidemic in the United States.

According to the database, over 3.4 billion pills were distributed in Ohio during the same time period. The fallout from oxycontin and the opioid epidemic led to the Ohio Attorney General’s office filing a lawsuit against five pharmaceutical companies in 2017.

Current Ohio AG Dave Yost believes the database and numbers further support Ohio’s lawsuit against five top pharmaceutical companies.

“The sheer volume of opiates going into some communities should have triggered alarms, flashing lights and flares — Yet these companies took no action until the number of overdose deaths spiraled out of control,” Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost told 2 NEWS in a statement. “Ohio’s lawsuit asks the people who created this mess to pay for cleaning it up.”

The top distributor in Montgomery County was Cardinal Health, which dispersed 29,792,720 pills.

According to its website, it is the 14th highest revenue generating company in the United States. It has headquarters in both Dublin Ohio and Dublin, Ireland. The company’s website features a statement saying it’s dedicated to fighting opioid addiction and misuse.

“This data supports Ohio’s lawsuit. The sheer volume of opiates going into some communities should have triggered alarms, flashing lights and flares — Yet these companies took no action until the number of overdose deaths spiraled out of control. Ohio’s lawsuit asks the people who created this mess to pay for cleaning it up.”

Ohio Attorney General, Dave Yost

The manufacturer with the most pills sold was SpecGx LLC, with 89,612,000.

Cardinal Health was the top distributor of pain pills in the state during the period. SpecGx LLC was also the top manufacturer.

The free flow of pills is believed to have led to the beginning of the opioid crisis that continued through the Great Recession and exploded afterward.

The total number of pills dispensed in Montgomery County would be equal to 46 pills per resident a year.

From 2015 to 2018, 1,463 people died of opioid overdoses, according to the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office.

Washington Post
Washington Post
Washington Post

Deaths peaked in 2017 with 566, but have fallen and thanks to more aggressive addiction treatment, community action and adjustments made by law enforcement to fight the crisis.

“Ohio has come a long way in changing prescription practices,” Montgomery County Coroner Kent Harshbarger said. “These numbers reflect the need for that.

“I think the main story now is the addiction problem. Not just a particular drug, but how we deal with opioids, or meth and cocaine, which are making comebacks. It’s more than one chemical. Cartels are a key component and the drugs are made somewhere else. How do we continue to interdict on the law enforcement side, while on the individual side we need to address this as a medical problem.”

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