Prescription painkillers

Prescription painkillers flooded Hennepin, Carver and Scott counties between 2006 and 2012, government data the Washington Post obtained shows.

If a Hennepin County resident asked to see what the supply of prescription painkillers looked like, per person, in their county between 2006 and 2012, they would have 168 pills laid out in front of them for that seven-year period.

The government data showing this number was recently obtained by the Washington Post. And by the same standards, a resident of Carver County would have a slightly lower average of 112 pills. A resident of Scott County would be at 105 pills.

Pharmaceutical companies across the nation saw more than 76 billion oxycodone and hydrocodone pills meted in the seven-year period, the Washington Post said. In Minnesota, 841,686,630 prescription pain pills were supplied.

As the supply of prescription painkillers to counties like Hennepin, Scott and Carver swelled, so did the opioid-related death count.

The Washington Post had been after the numbers from the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Automation of Reports and Consolidated Orders System for a year, and obtained them through a court order.

Journalists at the Post then started looking at 380 million transactions tracked in the data. They focused on shipments of oxycodone and hydrocodone pills, which make up 75% of the total opioid pill shipment to pharmacies.

The newsroom published a database in July for the entire nation’s numbers. State by state, and county by county, the records showed how prescription opioid pain pills seeped across the nation.

In the flow from manufacturer to distributor to pharmacy, some Minnesota counties had a higher volume than others. Mille Lacs, for example, was supplied 352 pills per person. Then, there are counties like Marshall County, which sat at 38 pills per person. Or Dodge County, with 34 pills per person.

Minnesota pales in comparison with counties in states like West Virginia, which had 1,424 pills supplied per person in Mingo County. Between 2006 and 2012, the volume of pills companies handled increased 51 percent, the Washington Post found.

The number of opioid-involved overdose deaths climbed as well during those same years. According to the Minnesota Department of Health, 53 people died of an opioid-involved overdose in Hennepin County in 2006. In 2012, that number was 93.

In Carver County, one person died of an opioid-involved overdose in 2006, and two died in 2012. Scott County saw four people die in 2006 and five in 2012 from the same cause.

WHERE THE PILLS CAME FROM

In Hennepin County over the seven-year period, 195,431,745 prescription pain pills were supplied, averaging 24 pills per person per year.

For the pills that came into Hennepin County, the top five distributors were:

  1. McKesson Corporation at 70,044,890
  2. Walgreen Co. at 57,390,050
  3. Cardinal Health at 21,703,620
  4. AmerisourceBergen Drug at 11,123,640
  5. Omnicare Distribution Center LLC at 10,154,800

The top five manufacturers were:

  1. SpecGx LLC at 94,427,848
  2. Actavis Pharma, Inc. at 61,441,258
  3. Par Pharmaceutical at 11,716,180
  4. Purdue Pharma LP at 11,456,860
  5. Amneal Pharmaceuticals LLC at 3,597,100

The top five pharmacies were:

  1. Omnicare-Minnesota, Brooklyn Center at 12,602,200
  2. HCMC P-1 Pharmacy, Minneapolis at 6,016,100
  3. Allina Health Heart Hospital Pharmacy, Minneapolis at 4,670,744
  4. Fairview Edina Pharmacy, Edina at 3,901,930
  5. Walgreen Co., Minneapolis at 3,468,300

In the seven-year period between 2006 and 2012, Carver County residents were supplied 10,446,360 prescription pain pills, enough for 16 pills per person per year.

For the pills that came into Carver County, the top five distributors were:

  1. McKesson Corporation at 5,499,680
  2. Walgreen Co. at 2,867,760
  3. Cardinal Health at 763,060
  4. AmisourceBergen Drug at 751,000
  5. CVS at 286,100

The top five manufacturers were:

  1. SpecGx LLC at 4,394,800
  2. Actavis Pharma, Inc. at 3,686,460
  3. Par Pharmaceutical at 895,220
  4. Purdue Pharma LP at 710,720
  5. Amneal Pharmaceuticals LLC at 226,300

The top five pharmacies were:

  1. Walgreen Co., Chaska at 1,840,200
  2. Waconia Pharmacy, Waconia at 893,900
  3. Target Stores, a div. of Target Corp., Chaska at 843,700
  4. Park Nicollet Pharmacy, Chanhassen at 818,900
  5. Watertown Pharmacy, Watertown at 813,520

Between 2006 and 2012, 13,759,531 prescription pain pills came into Scott County, an average of 15 pills per person per year supplied to the county.

For the pills that came into Scott County, the top five distributors were:

  1. Walgreen Co at 5,033,900
  2. McKesson Corporation at 4,139,370
  3. Wal-Mart at 952,000
  4. AmerisourceBergen Drug at 883,640
  5. Dakota Drug at 862,900

The top five manufacturers were:

  1. Actavis Pharma, Inc. at 5,521,326
  2. SpecGx LLC at 5,267,080
  3. Par Pharmaceutical at 1,342,100
  4. Purdue Pharma LP at 734,360
  5. Amneal Pharmaceuticals LLC at 198,300

The top five pharmacies were:

  1. Walgreen Co., Savage at 2,845,700
  2. Walgreen Co., Shakopee at 1,708,700
  3. Target Stores, a div. of Target Corp., Shakopee at 917,400
  4. Wal-Mart Pharmacy 10-3513, Shakopee at 836,800
  5. Coborn’s Pharmacy #38, New Prague at 823,640

Lara is a regional reporter for Southwest News Media.

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