Drug companies submerged WV in opioids: One town of 3,000 got 21 million pills

Summary and Analysis

The headline, the excerpt below and the full article speak for themselves.

While Congress and lawsuits dig into exactly who did what in the past, policy makers, communities, treatment providers and families need to keep the drug company track record in mind when making decisions today about how to deal with the crisis. 

When drug companies and their marketing machines loudly proclaim that we can only get ourselves out of the current opioid crisis by making more opioids more available to use in drug treatment, we need to apply truckloads of salt. We need to remember who helped get us into this mess and remember the same group is now the strongest proponent claiming that "more opioids" are the only solution. 

Of course, if drug companies would like to step up, take some responsibility and say "we know we helped create this mess so we will provide our addiction treatment drugs completely free of charge until the crisis has passed," perhaps the claims that Medication-Assisted Treatment is the only way to go would sound a little less self-serving. 

Excerpted from ARS Technica

Drug companies hosed tiny towns in West Virginia with a deluge of addictive and deadly opioid pills over the last decade, according to an ongoing investigation by the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

For instance, drug companies collectively poured 20.8 million hydrocodone and oxycodone pills into the small city of Williamson, West Virginia, between 2006 and 2016, according to a set of letters the committee released Tuesday. Williamson’s population was just 3,191 in 2010, according to US Census data.

“These numbers are outrageous, and we will get to the bottom of how this destruction was able to be unleashed across West Virginia,” committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) and ranking member Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) said in a joint statement to the Charleston Gazette-Mail.