Public federal data of all opioid sales—which is compiled by the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Automation of Reports and Consolidated Order System (ARCOS)—show how pharmaceutical companies increased shipments of the painkillers across the U.S. from 2006 to 2012.
What We Know:
- Journalists at the Washington Post and the Charleston Gazette-Mail in West Virginia, reported the country’s largest pharmaceutical companies distributed 76 billion OxyContin and Vicodin pills between 2006 and 2012. With every resident in states such as West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and Nevada having hundreds of painkillers of their own.
- “The database reveals what each company knew about the number of pills it was shipping and dispensing and precisely when they were aware of those volumes, year by year, town by town,” the Post reported. The data was released by a federal court in Ohio as part of lawsuits by 2,000 state, local and tribal governments seeking to hold drug companies accountable for the crisis.
- The number of pills distributed annually rose 51 percent over seven years, with more than 12 billion dispensed in 2012. During that time period, opioids contributed to more than 100,000 deaths in the U.S., according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Purdue Pharma produced about 3 percent of the nation’s opioids while SpecGX, Par Pharmaceutical and Activis Pharma—that sold lower-priced generic drugs—combined made 90 percent of the pills.
- On Monday, U.S. District Judge Dan Polster ruled for the protective order covering shipments from 2006 to 2012 to be lifted. The ruling comes after the two newspapers’ Freedom of Information Act request was denied by the DEA, and after an appeals court reversed Polster’s earlier ruling against the publications.
The first scheduled trial before Polster is set for October in lawsuits filed by Ohio’s Summit and Cuyahoga counties.