Two of the nation’s biggest drug distributors shipped 12.3 million doses of powerful opioids to a single pharmacy in a tiny West Virginia town over an eight-year period, says the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the Washington Post reports. The Family Discount Pharmacy in Mount Gay-Shamrock received the drugs from McKesson Corp. and Cardinal Health between 2006 and 2014. The committee is investigating the sale of pills in West Virginia by wholesale drug distributors, which are required by law to monitor and report to the Drug Enforcement Administration suspicious purchase orders for opioids. When they do not, millions of pills can be diverted to users and dealers from a single pharmacy.
The new data were included in letters sent by the committee to the “Big Three” drug distributors — McKesson, Cardinal and AmerisourceBergen — demanding more information on the steps they took during those years to keep drugs off the black market. McKesson is the fifth-largest company in the U.S., with revenue of more than $192 billion, according to the Fortune 500 list. Cardinal ranked 15th on the list, with $121 billion in revenue. West Virginia has by far the highest rate of U.S. drug overdose deaths, at 52 people per 100,000 in 2016. “We need detailed answers and documents from these national distributors as to why large volumes of opioids were distributed to certain areas of the state,” said the committee’s chairman, Rep. Greg Walden (R-Or.), and ranking Democrat, Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-NJ). “West Virginians and families devastated by the opioid crisis all over the country deserve answers.”