By KayLynn Roberts-McMurray & Shadrach Micheals
The Ely Times
Part One of a Four-Part Series
Pharmaceutical companies could be considered guilty of killing hundreds of thousands of Americans. Irrefutable proof has recently come to light and illustrates exactly how these pill-making powerhouses, with their vice grip on politicians, pursued profit over protecting the sick and in pain. Between 2006 and 2012, the height of the opioid epidemic, nearly one hundred thousand Americans died of opioid overdose due to losing themselves to prescription pill medications specifically engineered to be addictive; eleven of those people lived right here in White Pine County.
During this seven year period, as the opioid drug crisis swept across this country and our state, Big Pharma actively perpetuated the epidemic through its purposeful manufacturing and distribution of 76 Billion oxycodone and hydrocodone pills, dispensing them throughout the United States, with over 1.2 billion prescription pain pills shipped into the state of Nevada.
Breaking down the numbers of the opioid drug crisis has just begun. One month ago, on July 16th, 2019, The Washington Post gained access to the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Automation of Reports and Consolidated Orders System, known as ARCOS, as the result of a court order. The Post and HD Media, which publishes the Charleston Gazette-Mail in West Virginia, a region devastated by opioids, waged a year-long legal battle for access to this database, which the government and the drug industry fought to keep secret.
The Ely Times will be examining this data and reporting this story in a four part series. This article’s purpose is to provide White Pine County with a glimpse into the numbers that highlight these egregious drug related crimes against our state and our nation.
The Drug Enforcement Administration has been tracking the sales of opioid prescription medication through ARCOS. This system’s collected data details how White Pine County, Nevada was supplied 5,339,260 opioid oxycodone and hydrocodone prescription pills, enough for 79 pills for every person in our county, every year for seven years, from 2006 to 2012.
The DEA and their ARCOS followed each and every single one of those 76 billion pills sold, in every state, in every county, in every city, in every pharmacy. The revelations of this information has led districts across the United States to identify the areas hardest hit by the opioid epidemic allowing agencies new opportunities to best address those most in need of recovery from opioid pain-pill addiction.
Nearly 83,000 pharmacies are at the front lines of the opioid crisis in America. Here in Ely and White Pine County, the numbers collected over this seven year period by ARCOS provide a startling glimpse into how major pharmaceutical manufacturers and suppliers manipulated the system and flooded the market with dangerously addictive narcotics. Using the governmental agency’s ARCOS the public is now able to identify, on a granular level, where each pill delivered into our state wound up and was dispensed.
6 STEPTOE CIRCLE 1500 AVENUE F
41,100 pills were shipped to this pharmacy between 2006 and 2012.About enough for one pill per year for each of the 4,306 people who live within five miles of this pharmacy.
BAILY STORES, PROFESSIONAL PHARMACY
6 STEPTOE CIRCLE 1500 Avenue F
1,515,400 pills were shipped to this pharmacy between 2006 and 2012.About enough for 50 pills per year for each of the 4,306 people who live within five miles of this pharmacy.
RIDLEY’S CLINIC PHARMACY
6 STEPTOE CIRCLE 1500 Avenue F
1,112,120 pills were shipped to this pharmacy between 2006 and 2012.About enough for 36 pills per year for each of the 4,306 people who live within five miles of this pharmacy.
RIDLEY’S PHARMACY #1154
1689 GREAT BASIN BLVD
563,400 pills were shipped to this pharmacy between 2006 and 2012.About enough for 18 pills per year for each of the 4,306 people who live within five miles of this pharmacy.
ECONOMY DRUG INC
696 AULTMAN ST
1,574,840 pills were shipped to this pharmacy between 2006 and 2012.About enough for 43 pills per year for each of the 5,198 people who live within five miles of this pharmacy
504 AULTMAN ST
532,400 pills were shipped to this pharmacy between 2006 and 2012. About enough for 19 pills per year for each of the 3,975 people who live within five miles of this pharmacy.
Simultaneously, the DEA compiled and kept secret their research while tracking America’s largest drug companies as they knowingly flooded the country with highly addictive prescription medication, even as overdose death rates skyrocketed in every region of the United States.
Across Nevada, the sheer volume of opioid medication distributed is startling for every county. While Eureka, Esmerelda, and Storey Counties ranked in the bottom of the statistics, with numbers too low to report, the same, sadly, cannot be said for any other community in the Silver State.
Here is a comprehensive list of where 1,002,207,355 oxycodone and hydrocodone pills were sent during the observed seven year period:
County 2006 – 2012
Carson City: 25,105,185 pills or 64 pills per person per year
Churchill: 9,412,960 pills or 54 pills per person per year
Clark: 745,110,939 pills or 56.5 pills per person per year
Douglas: 16,892,990 pills or 51.5 pills per person per year
Elko: 12,086,020 pills or 36 pills per person per year
Esmerelda: 0 prescription pain pill transactions for this county
Eureka: 300 pills
Humboldt: 4,461,140 pills or 39 pills per person per year
Lander: 1,548,710 pills or 40 pills per person per year
Lincoln: 1,602,590 pills or 46 pills per person per year
Lyon: 15, 349, 658 pills or 42 pills per person per year
Mineral: 2,175,110 pills or 64 pills per person per year
Nye: 29,557,843 pills or 96 pills per person per year
Pershing: 148,850 pills or 3 pills per person per year
Storey: 0 prescription pain pill transactions for this county
Washoe: 133,415,800 pills or 46 pills per person per year
White Pine: 5,339,260 pills or 79 pills per person per year
1,002,207,355 prescription pills cascaded into Nevada, enough for every resident in the state to have received 48 pills every year for seven years.
1,002,207,355 prescription opioid pain pills cascaded into Nevada, enough for every resident in the state to have received 48 pills every year for these seven years. The top five opioid medication distributors for White Pine are identifiable through the ARCOS database. 2,346,760 of the pills supplied to White Pine County were distributed by Cardinal Health, while McKesson Corporation distributed 1,726,420 prescription pain pills. AmerisourceBergen Drug supplied 593,100, Anda, Inc issued 411,100 of the opioids, Associated Pharmacies Inc dispensed 261,880 hydrocodone and oxycodone pills to WhitePine County’s pharmacies and residents.
With the work done by The Washington Post, we are able to now understand through the analysis of the data that the volume of pills handled by the companies climbed as the opioid epidemic surged, increasing 51 percent from 8.4 billion pills in 2006 to 12.6 billion pills in 2012. Every year, every county-level map show the influx of pills increasing. Six companies distributed 75 percent of the pills during this period in the United States: McKesson Corp., Walgreens, Cardinal Health, AmerisourceBergen, CVS and Walmart, according to the analysis of the database by The Washington Post.
The Post has been dissecting and reporting on the pharmaceutical industry’s opioid behavior since 2016, due to our nation’s opioid drug overdose death toll climbing to over 400,000 since 1996, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. States and counties are beginning to hold those responsible accountable, as will we here in Nevada. Now comes the time when the country must attempt to recover from the abuses suffered at the hands of these goliath conglomerate companies. We here in Nevada and White Pine are doing the same, while trying to understand how this could happen in our community.
Next week we will continue our reporting by detailing what state, county, and city leaders and law enforcement agencies are doing to help combat the new threats in the battle against opioid addiction.
If you are addicted to opioid prescription medication or struggling with heroin addiction, please know you are not alone. Help is a phone call away. Call Carson Tahoe Behavioral Health: 775-445-8000. Or call the Mallory Center: 775-445-8889.