Fox News Cincinnati
Drug companies shipped billions of painkillers to communities across America without proper oversight between 2006 and 2012, according to newly released data from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), highlighting the pharmaceutical industry’s role in the opioid epidemic as it faces a possible legal reckoning similar to that which befell the tobacco companies in the 1990s.
In all, 76 billion oxycodone and hydrocodone pills were shipped over that seven-year period, according to the DEA and its Automation of Reports and Consolidated Orders System (ARCOS). That data was obtained by the Washington Post and HD Media, which owns newspapers in West Virginia. The Post published the data after a federal judge overseeing litigation against drug companies in Cleveland agreed to release the information to the public.
The leading opioid producers over that span were three companies that make generic drugs: SpecGX, Par Pharmaceutical and Activis Pharma. Together, they produced nearly 9 in 10 opioid pills that were shipped to pharmacies. The next biggest drugmaker was OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma, which is often cast as the villain of the opioid crisis but produced just 3 percent of the opioid pills over the span. McKesson Corp., Walgreens, Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen were the largest opioid distribution companies from 2006 through 2012. Each distributed at least 9 billion pills, representing 12 percent to 18 percent of the total market.
Such charges are no doubt in part associated with the DEAs planned action to reduce opioid production in the US to one-half its peak levels in recent years.