In the battle to determine who is to blame for the opioid epidemic that has killed more people than Viet Nam, it turns out that not only was West Virginia a capital of opioid prescriptions, but Clallam County was also. Between Jefferson and Clallam Counties, in a six year period both counties received and distributed over 43 million opioid pills!
According to the Washington Post that reformatted the data into searchable form, from 2006 to 2012 there were 5,817,030 prescription pain pills, enough for 28 pills per person per year, supplied to Jefferson County, Wash. Safeway was the largest distributor, selling 2,331,220 pills. Don’s pharmacy came in at 1,367,550 pills distributed, behind second place QFC in Hadlock.
But even those numbers were dwarfed by Clallam county, who distributed 37,838,060 prescription pain pills, enough for 76 pills per person per year.
•18,067,280 of the pills in Clallam County were distributed by McKesson Corporation and 19,907,900 were manufactured by SpecGx LLC.
•JIM’S PHARMACY, PORT ANGELES pharmacy received the highest number of pills. They distributed 5,280,190 pills. But Chinook Pharmacy in Forks was not far behind with over 4.6 Million pills distributed.
It is clear to anyone following this story that a number of people are at the root cause of this human tragedy. Let’s count the ways:
- There is clear evidence now that the pharmaceutical companies lied to the public and the government. Lawsuits underway have established that fact. Their salespeople spread misinformation about the products.
- The Federal government, lawmakers, FDA and others, blindly took the word of the drug companies as to the safety and efficacy of these drugs.
- The medical community bought the medical findings and the pharmaceutical sales peoples pitches. This included the medical providers at our local hospital, Jefferson Healthcare. This can be seen as a damning indictment of the the medical providers there, along with the administration of the hospital and it’s hospital commissioners. Who was watching the amount of pills being provided to patients? There were clear signs that there were problems with opioid prescriptions much earlier than 2012. What was Jefferson Healthcare doing to monitor their staff?
- At the same time the medical professionals at JHC were writing all these prescriptions for opioids, they were well aware of problems with them,because Dr. James Kimber Rotchford was treating many of their patients for abuse of these same pain killers at his independent clinic, Olympic Pain and Addiction Services . It was widely known within the local medical community and a number of these providers were quite dismissive of Dr. Rotchford’s efforts. Dr. Rochford’s clinic was raided by the DEA in 2010 but was cleared of any wrongdoing. The basis for the raid was never uncovered.
- The pharmacies ignored clear warning signs that vastly too many pills to make sense were being sold for their communities.
The outcome was a trail of broken lives, broken communities, massively enriched sales people and companies, many of whom then recycled these gains into political candidates campaign chests.
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