76 billion Opioid Pills Flooded US As Epidemic Raged

AP is reporting:

“CLEVELAND (AP) — Newly released federal data shows how drugmakers and distributors increased shipments of opioid painkillers across the U.S. as the nation’s addiction crisis accelerated from 2006 to 2012.

The data, released this week by a federal court in Ohio as part of a far-reaching opioids case, shows that companies distributed 8.4 billion hydrocodone and oxycodone pills to commercial pharmacies in 2006 and 12.6 billion in 2012. That’s an increase of over 50%.

Over that seven-year period, 76 billion pills were distributed in all, according to an analysis by The Washington Post, which had sued along with another outlet, HD Media, to obtain the data. During the same timeframe, prescription opioids contributed to more than 100,000 deaths in the U.S., according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The shipments increased even after one of the companies, Purdue Pharma, was leveled with a $635 million federal fine in 2007 for falsely claiming its drug, OxyContin, was not as addictive as earlier opioids.

While OxyContin is the best-known prescription opioid, the Post analysis shows that Purdue accounted for just 3% of pills sold during that time. Three makers of generic drugs accounted for nearly 90% of the sales.

The data tracks a dozen different opioids, including oxycodone and hydrocodone, according to the Post. They account for most of the pill shipments to pharmacies.

The distribution data, maintained by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, is a key element of lawsuits filed by more than 2,000 state, local and tribal governments seeking to hold drug companies accountable for the crisis.”

Closing arguments were heard on Monday in The State of Oklahoma Vs. Johnson and Johnson. The trial is playing out in the courtroom of Cleveland County District Judge Thad Balkman. It is the first of its kind in the nation, and legal scholars say it could set a major precedent for other states. Shaping up to be a high-water mark for some type of legal respite to help correct America’s course away from further human loss and societal degradation from the products and practices of opioid drugmakers.

The state has said that more than 6,100 Oklahomans died as a result of a prescription drug overdose from 2000 to 2017. It has proposed a $17.5 billion abatement plan over 30 years to get the state out of its opioid epidemic.

The company’s role in the opioid crisis may be worse than Purdue’s. Oklahoma has alleged that two Johnson & Johnson subsidiaries, Tasmanian Alkaloids and Noramco, “created, grew, imported and supplied to J&J and its other co-conspirators, including Purdue, the narcotic raw materials necessary to manufacture the opioid pain medications thrust upon the unsuspecting public since the 1990s.

Motherjones detailed the bombshell documents in a report stating:

Exhibits shown at the Oklahoma trial suggest that Purdue’s growth relied largely on Johnson and Johnson’s thebaine supply. A 1998 letter from an executive from Noramco…to Purdue Frederick Laboratories (later Purdue Pharma) read, “Noramco will work with PF Laboratories to secure its entire, worldwide requirements. This is not a minor point. As we have discussed, access to raw materials is going to be critical to obtaining security of supply.” It goes on, “gaining access to raw materials on a worldwide basis…simply cannot be provided by any other company.

For more details, see the exclusive story from The HighWire JOHNSON & JOHNSON: A HOUSEHOLD NAME TO A PUBLIC DOWNFALL

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