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Drug firms shipped 40M pain pills a year to state

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Over five years, out-of-state drug wholesalers shipped more than 200 million doses of two popular prescription painkillers to West Virginia, while turning a blind eye to suspicious orders from “pill-mill” pharmacies, according to the latest filing in a state lawsuit against the companies.

The release of the pill numbers follows a bid by the drug wholesalers to toss out the lawsuit.

Between 2007 and 2012, 11 drug distributors shipped 59.9 million oxycodone pills and 140.6 million hydrocodone pills to West Virginia, according to the filing by lawyers representing two state agencies.

“That’s an extraordinarily high number of medications in a state with less than 2 million people,” said Delegate Don Perdue, D-Wayne, a retired pharmacist. “If I would have been the firm shipping those drugs or seeing those shipping records, I would have looked at that and said, “What’s going on here?’

Oxycodone and hydrocodone are the most widely abused prescription painkillers, and contribute to more overdose deaths in West Virginia than any other drug.

The wholesalers’ pain-pill numbers were culled from a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration database, according to the filing.

AmerisourceBergen, the nation’s third largest drug wholesaler, shipped 80.3 million hydrocodone pills and 38.4 million oxycodone pills to West Virginia over the five-year span — the highest totals for both drugs by any company named in the state’s lawsuit, according to the filing.

Miami-Luken Inc. had the next-largest numbers with 20.4 million hydrocodone pills and 8.2 million oxycodone pills sent to West Virginia pharmacies.

Other distributors with high numbers include Anda Inc. and H.D. Smith Wholesale Drug Co.

“The drug distributors provided the fuel for the prescription drug problem in this state…

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