Drilling into the DEA’s pain pill database

Summary and Analysis

Following up on The Washington Post's eye-opening article based on the DEA drug tracking database, the Post made this online, searchable version of the database available. The web site allows users to search by state and country to view a breakdown of the total number of pills supplied during the six-year period from 2006 to 2012. 

The database is an invaluable resource to help communities understand how they were impacted by out-of-control opioid distribution.  

Excerpted from The Washington Post

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For the first time, a database maintained by the Drug Enforcement Administration that tracks the path of every single pain pill sold in the United States — by manufacturers and distributors to pharmacies in every town and city — has been made public.

The Washington Post sifted through nearly 380 million transactions from 2006 through 2012 that are detailed in the DEA’s database and analyzed shipments of oxycodone and hydrocodone pills, which account for three-quarters of the total opioid pill shipments to pharmacies. The Post is making this data available at the county and state levels in order to help the public understand the impact of years of prescription pill shipments on their communities.

These records provide an unprecedented look at the surge of legal pain pills that fueled the prescription opioid epidemic, which resulted in nearly 100,000 deaths during the seven-year time frame ending in 2012.

A county-level analysis of the cumulative data shows where the most oxycodone and hydrocodone pills were distributed across the country over that time: more than 76 billion in all.