Reports of Extremely High Amount of Opioids Being Distributed for Size of West Virginia’s Population
WASHINGTON, DC – Bipartisan committee leaders sent a series of letters on Monday to pill distributors and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) following recent reports of extremely high amounts of opioids being distributed 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 Tim Murphy (R-PA), and Oversight, Investigations Subcommittee Ranking Member Diana DeGette (D-CO), and Rep. David McKinley (R-WV).
“For example, in the small community of Kermit, West Virginia, with a population of 392, a single pharmacy received nearly nine million hydrocodone pills over two years,” wrote Walden, Pallone, Murphy, DeGette, and McKinley to the distributors. “The Gazette-Mail’s reporting also cited another example of what they called a ‘mom-and-pop pharmacy’ in the small town of Oceana, West Virginia that received an unusually high level of prescription medicines relative to a nearby pharmacy. In that case, the Gazette-Mail reported this single pharmacy ‘received 600 times as many oxycodone pills’ than a Rite Aid drugstore that was ‘just eight blocks away.’”
The committee leaders continued, “If these reports are true, it would appear that the state of West Virginia may have received extraordinary amounts of opioids from distributors beyond what that population could safely use.”
In the letter to the acting administrator of the DEA, the leaders requested information about what the DEA knew about the large quantities of opioids being distributed in West Virginia.
Committee leaders wrote, “All players in the health care and enforcement community have a responsibility to help prevent opioid abuse, addiction, and diversion, and DEA has been at the forefront of these efforts. With the collective data that DEA has access to, the agency can help identify and respond to suspicious order trends for addictive opioids that appear problematic or excessive. Federal regulation requires distributors to report suspicious orders of narcotics to DEA, which include ‘orders of unusual size, orders deviating substantially from a normal pattern, and orders of unusual frequency.’”
The letters are the latest action in the committee’s ongoing opioid investigation, which served as a catalyst for the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (now law).
Click HERE to read a copy of the letters.