In the News

E&C Continues to Expand Bipartisan Investigation into Alleged Pill Dumping in West Virginia


01.30.18

Bipartisan E&C Leaders Send Follow-Up, Probe Additional Distributor


Bipartisan committee leaders sent letters last week to two regional drug distributors, Miami-Luken and H.D. Smith, expanding on its ongoing investigation into alleged pill dumping in the state of West Virginia. The letters were sent by full committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR), full committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Gregg Harper (R-MS), Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Ranking Member Diana DeGette (D-CO), and Rep. David McKinley (R-WV).

The bipartisan committee leaders first requested information from Miami-Luken on September 25, 2017. This is the first letter to H.D. Smith.

In the letter to Mr. J. Christopher Smith, President and CEO of H.D. Smith, the leaders wrote, “H.D. Smith also appears to have been a major supplier to Sav-Rite Pharmacy No. 1 in 2008. DEA data suggests that it provided the pharmacy with over 1.3 million hydrocodone and oxycodone pills, a 1,154 percent increase over the 104,380 pills H.D. Smith provided the pharmacy the year prior.”

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports, “In its letters, the panel also raised questions about Miami-Luken’s shipments to Westside Pharmacy in Oceana, Wyoming County. The committee cited documents that show a Miami-Luken employee reported a Virginia doctor, who operated a pain clinic located two hours from Oceana, was sending his patients to Westside Pharmacy, which filled the prescriptions. In 2015, more than 40 percent of the oxycodone prescriptions filled by Westside Pharmacy in Oceana were coming from the Virginia doctor, according to the committee’s letter. The following year, the Virginia Board of Medicine suspended the doctor’s license, finding his practice posed a ‘substantial danger to public health and safety.’ The panel’s letter also mentions Miami-Luken’s suspicious shipments to Colony Drug in Beckley. In a five-day span in 2015, the drug wholesaler shipped 16,800 oxycodone pills to the pharmacy.”

Click HERE to read the letters.

For more information on the committee’s investigation and other efforts to combat the opioid crisis, click HERE.


Drug firms shipped 20.8M pain pills to WV town with 2,900 people

Over the past decade, out-of-state drug companies shipped 20.8 million prescription painkillers to two pharmacies four blocks apart in a Southern West Virginia town with 2,900 people, according to a congressional committee investigating the opioid crisis.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee cited the massive shipments of hydrocodone and oxycodone — two powerful painkillers — to the town of Williamson, in Mingo County, amid the panel’s inquiry into the role of drug distributors in the opioid epidemic.

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

The panel recently sent letters to regional drug wholesalers Miami-Luken and H.D. Smith, asking why the companies increased painkiller shipments and didn’t flag suspicious drug orders from pharmacies while overdose deaths were surging across West Virginia.

The letters outline high-volume shipments to pharmacies over consecutive days and huge spikes in pain pill numbers from year to year.

Between 2006 and 2016, drug wholesalers shipped 10.2 million hydrocodone pills and 10.6 million oxycodone pills to Tug Valley Pharmacy and Hurley Drug in Williamson, according to Drug Enforcement Administration data obtained by the House Committee.

Springboro, Ohio-based Miami-Luken sold 6.4 million hydrocodone and oxycodone pills to Tug Valley Pharmacy from 2008 to 2015, the company disclosed to the panel. That’s more than half of all painkillers shipped to the pharmacy those years. In a single year (2008 to 2009), Miami-Luken’s shipments increased three-fold to the Mingo County town.

Miami-Luken also was a major supplier to the now-closed Save-Rite Pharmacy in the Mingo County town of Kermit, population 400.

The drug wholesaler shipped 5.7 million hydrocodone and oxycodone pills to Save-Rite and a branch pharmacy called Sav-Rite #2 between 2005 and 2011, according records Miami-Luken gave the committee. In 2008, the company provided 5,624 prescription pain pills for every man, woman and child in Kermit.

In its letters, the panel also raised questions about Miami-Luken’s shipments to Westside Pharmacy in Oceana, Wyoming County. The committee cited documents that show a Miami-Luken employee reported a Virginia doctor, who operated a pain clinic located two hours from Oceana, was sending his patients to Westside Pharmacy, which filled the prescriptions.

In 2015, more than 40 percent of the oxycodone prescriptions filled by Westside Pharmacy in Oceana were coming from the Virginia doctor, according to the committee’s letter. The following year, the Virginia Board of Medicine suspended the doctor’s license, finding his practice posed a “substantial danger to public health and safety.”

The panel’s letter also mentions Miami-Luken’s suspicious shipments to Colony Drug in Beckley. In a five-day span in 2015, the drug wholesaler shipped 16,800 oxycodone pills to the pharmacy.

“In several instances, Colony Drug placed multiple orders for what appears to be excessive amounts of pills on consecutive days,” the committee wrote. …

Click HERE to read the full story online.

In the News