Over the past 6 years, a total of 1,728 occurred as a result of lethal overdoses in West Virginia. All of these people died as a result of overdosing either on hydrocodone or oxycodone, considering that 780 million of these pills were shipped to the state by drug wholesalers in merely six years. West Virginia has a population of 1.84 million people, which means that each individual could have obtained roughly 433 of these opioid painkillers over these past six years. Between 2007 and 2012, these pills were distributed and sold to every drug shipment and pharmacy in West Virginia’s 55 counties.
According to the CDC, out of those fifty-five counties, Boone, McDowell, Mingo and Wyoming are among the ones with the highest rates of overdose deaths in the nation. The DEA managed to get their hands on confidential records that drugwholers were hoping would remain secret. These records were eventually sent to the office of Patrick Morrisey, the Attorney General of West Virginia.
These records clearly disclose how these drug wholesalers contributed to West Virginia and the nation’s growing drug and addiction epidemic by shipping such an outrageously and unnecessarily substantial number of opioids. Hence, they can and should also be held accountable for the surge in the resulting death toll, especially in the state of West Virginia. It is obvious that these drug wholesalers are greedy to a criminal extent and they profited on the loss of innocent lives, which is inexcusable.
As of now, 85% of the revenue of the American drug distribution market is under the control of AmerisourceBergen Drug Co., Cardinal Health, Inc. and McKesson Corp. Between 2007 and 2012, ever since that 780 million shipment of hydrocodone and oxycodone, there has been a 67% rise in overdose deaths resulting from those two drugs. These companies earned billions and their CEOs received millions on that shipment. Forbes ranked the CEO of McKesson as the most highest-paid in the country in 2012.
Drug distributors claim that the industry is highly regulated and they are merely middlemen. Furthermore, they blame unethical doctors who write illicit prescriptions and pharmacists who pretend not to notice for the fact that addicts and dealers have managed to get their hands on these pills. While this does not diminish the role that drug distributors have played, the DEA agrees that doctors and pharmacists are also responsible for the pills that were shipped resulting in such a huge death toll. However, there have also been accusations that these drug distributors, doctors and retail pharmacies colluded with each other.
Independent drugstores in some of West Virginia’s smallest towns ordered the largest shipments of hydrocodone and oxycodone. Back in 2010, Mingo County had a population of less than 24,000 people, yet 3 million hydrocodone pills were sent to the county’s Tug Valley Pharmacy the year before.
To make matters worse, West Virginia’s current Attorney General was once a lobbyist for drug wholesalers and a representative of Cardinal Health, Inc. Many of the wholesalers he was lobbying for faced a lawsuit in 2013 at the time he was taking office and his office later sued McKesson Corp. Back in 2012, the Attorney General of West Virginia before Morrisey also sued drug wholesalers. It turns out that drug companies have been fined significantly in the past for either disregarding rules to or simply not reporting suspicious orders in states other than west Virginia.