Charleston County ranks the highest rate for opioid pain pill distribution in the nation according to data from the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in the last few years. This reflects the severity of the opioid epidemic which has hit the nation hard. The data released shows the path of opioid pills distributed from manufacturers to local pharmacies, and then to the public.
1.8 Billion Pills Dispensed Across the State
The DEA data reveals that between 2006 to 2012, 1.8 billion pills were dispensed across the state of South Carolina. The Post & Courier did an analysis of the data that was released and reported the results in a recent article. Called the Automation of Reports and Consolidated Order System, the database provides a detailed view of the flow of hundreds of millions of opioid pills distributed to American citizens. South Carolina had the third-highest share of the billions of painkillers distributed nationwide due to the flow of the addictive pills through Charleston County.
SC Veterans Affairs Service Center Distributes Millions of Opioid Pills
The volume coming into Charleston County does not mean local residents took the pills themselves. Much of the volume can be traced to the Veterans Affairs’ North Charleston Consolidated Mail Outpatient Pharmacy. The pharmacy shipped increasing amounts of opioid pills to veterans between 2006 and 2012 according to the DEA database.
The database provides a snapshot into the supply chain of the addictive opioids during a time of aggressive marketing by manufacturers and distributors which are now being sued by more than 2,000 local governments. The seven VA mail-order pharmacies across the country are the major driver of the high volume of pills dispensed in the United States. The local VA mail-order pharmacy shipped opioid prescriptions from its North Charleston center to veterans located in the Southeast and Puerto Rico.
Candace Hull, a VA spokesperson for the Southeast District, told the Post & Courier that the agency is working to improve how it manages pain for VA patients and is distributing far less opioids now as a whole.
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