Top executives from Cardinal Health, Miami-Luken, McKesson Corp., AmerisourceBergen Corp. and H.D. Smith Wholesale Drug Co. were recently grilled by members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s panel on oversight and investigations for their alleged role in pill dumping in West Virginia. The year-long investigation culminated in a three-hour questioning session on May 8, 2018 regarding their involvement in the opioid crisis. According to the Democrats and Republicans on the Committee, the five drug distributors are responsible for dumping too many opioids (chiefly hydrocodone and oxycodone pills) in the state and failing to miss the signs of possible side effects.
During the grueling session, only two of the top executives, Cardinal Health’s Executive Chairman George Barrett and Joseph Mastandrea, chairman of the board at Miami-Luken, accepted the consequences of their actions. Although Barrett apologized for his company’s failure to stop sending painkillers to the two state pharmacies, he denied taking ownership of his company’s involvement in worsening the opioid epidemic. Of the five executives, only Mastandrea answered ‘yes’ when asked by subcommittee’s chairman Rep. Gregg Harper whether the actions of his company contributed to the growing problem.
As per Rep. Frank Pallone, it was the distributors’ responsibility to “monitor orders, refuse suspicious orders and report those orders to the DEA.” As per him, the Committee’s investigation had shown that it “did not always happen.” Pallone was joined by Rep. David McKinley who accused the distributors of not taking sufficient action. As per him, while the distributors are simply “deflecting responsibility”, they did have a role in it. However, the five major pharma companies have denied being part of the state’s opioid crisis as they did not manufacture or prescribe the drug, and insisted that doctors and pharmacies continued to overprescribe. During the hearing, the companies also talked about the steps that they have taken to keep prescription medicines out of wrong hands but called on the DEA to cooperate and collaborate by standardizing drug monitoring programs among its regulated distributors.
West Virginia is one of the worst hit states
West Virginia is one of the hardest hit states, with 16.9 percent increase in drug overdose deaths being recorded during 2014-2015. According to the CDC, it was among the states with the highest number of drug-related overdose deaths in 2016. In the same year, it recorded the highest number of opioid-related overdose deaths with 43.4 deaths per 100,000 people.
According to a January 2018 report by the Committee on Energy and Commerce, between 2006 and 2016, drug distributors shipped more than 20 million hydrocodone and oxycodone pills to Williamson, a small town of approximately 3,000 residents. The painkillers were shipped to two small pharmacies – Tug Valley Pharmacy and Hurley Drug Company.
Choose life over opioids
Continued use of opioids can cause dependency, eventually leading to addiction that can have devastating consequences on an individual’s physical and mental health. Painkillers can be extremely addictive and their sudden discontinuation can lead to uncomfortable opioid withdrawal symptoms, thereby requiring professional treatment at certified rehab clinics.
At Sovereign Health, we understand how harmful addictive opioids are and therefore, provide comprehensive treatment programs that combine medically assisted detox with a variety of behavioral therapies for holistic recovery. If you know someone addicted to opioids or prescription painkillers like hydrocodone, you can seek professional hydrocodone addiction treatment from our certified rehab centers. To find our credible hydrocodone addiction treatment center, call us at our 24/7 helpline (855) 683-9756 or chat live with a member of our team.