Greg interviews Eric Eyre, a Journalist at Charleston Gazette-Mail. Eric reports on healthcare issues, including the current opioid epidemic sweeping across the nation and more specifically in West Virginia. In December of 2015, he wrote an article on opioid distribution in West Virginia. His team analyzed opioid shipments between 2007 and 2012. Through this deep research, they learned that wholesalers shipped enough opioids to supply every man, woman and child with 433 pills during that time period.
Eric notes that many of the largest shipments went to mom-and-pop drug stores in rural communities. He discusses one striking case discovered among these independently owned stores. “In Kermit, West Virginia, a single pharmacy was shipped almost 9 million hydrocodone over a period of just 2 years,” says Eric. “The town has a population of 382 people.” says Eric. He explains that Kermit is located in Mingo County, a county with one of the highest overdose death rates in the nation.
Eric’s team also found that a disproportionate number of pain pills went to the poorest and most rural counties in West Virginia. He shares why the number was so disproportionate compared to less rural counties. “For more than a decade, the distributors were supposed to report suspicious orders for drugs, says Eric. “We found out later that the Board of Pharmacy failed to enforce their rule of reporting suspicious orders.” Eric explains that a suspicious order is when a pharmacy orders a suspiciously high volume of pills consecutively.
Listen to the podcast to hear who the highly-profitable drug companies blame for the recent increase in overdoses and Eric’s outlook on the opioid epidemic.